(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Greg Sargent April 18 at 10:10 AM
THE MORNING PLUM:
President Trump has reversed himself on a lot of campaign promises lately, and some have rushed to credit him with learning on the job. While one hopes he is capable of this, his reversals also reflect the less admirable factor that his original campaign agenda was mostly fraudulent — and is now colliding violently with reality.
One excellent illustration of this is Trump’s vow to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal. And that’s why it’s good news that Trump is now seriously considering remaining in the accord, now that some of his most senior advisers are apprising him of the folly of withdrawing from it.
The Associated Press and the New York Times report that Trump’s top advisers will huddle Tuesday to decide what to recommend to the president about the United States’ path forward. The Times notes that there is a divide among them that breaks down this way:
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump vowed to “cancel” the climate deal, and his most politically conservative advisers, including his senior strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have pushed him to follow through. But Mr. Bannon’s influence has waned in recent weeks, while authority has risen for Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who advocate staying in the accord.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has also spoken in favor of “keeping a seat at the table” in the climate pact, and in recent days, major corporations have stepped forward to embrace that position.
A growing roster of more than a dozen Republican lawmakers now say Mr. Trump should release them … The Trump administration’s tax plan, promised in February, has yet to materialize; a House Republican plan has bogged down, taking as much fire from conservatives as liberals … lawmakers do not want to pass an overhaul of the tax code that unwittingly enriches the commander in chief and his progeny.
As ethics expert Norm Eisen predicted to this blog, if Trump wants tax reform — and he really needs a big accomplishment — he may have to make serious concessions on transparency.
* WHITE HOUSE WILL CLOSELY WATCH TODAY’S GEORGIA ELECTION: Axios reports that the White House is taking a keen interest in today’s special election in Georgia, in which Democrat Jon Ossoff is likely to win easily but may not reach 50 percent to avoid a runoff:
Why Trump cares: Whether he likes it or not, the media will portray this election as an early verdict on his presidency. The year’s first special election, in Kansas’ usually reliable deep-red 4th district, was way closer than it should’ve been. A loss in Georgia would further weaken Trump and make his legislative agenda — which relies on him holding his popularity like a knife over recalcitrant Republicans — a fair bit tougher.
And as we’ve seen, Trump’s “popularity” already has totally cowed congressional Republicans into doing his bidding. (Not. And today could make it worse.)
* WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN GEORGIA: Nate Cohn notes that turnout will be very unpredictable, as this is a special election, but the early voting turnoutshould boost Democrats’ confidence more generally:
Democratic turnout [in the early voting] was impressive by any measure. It’s much higher than it was in the early voting in the 2014 midterm election. … Even if Mr. Ossoff falls short, a strong showing — over 45 percent of the vote — would suggest that he would be very competitive in the June runoff.
As Cohn notes, polls suggest Ossoff will fall short of 50 percent to avoid a runoff, but the possibility that Ossoff could win outright can’t be ruled out, given how hard it is to poll special elections.
* WHAT DEMOCRATS HOPE FOR IN GEORGIA: David Drucker gets the readout from Democratic operatives monitoring the race:
Democratic insiders will be watching how close Ossoff gets to 50 percent. Privately, they concede he is headed to a runoff. But operatives say that in a district where the Democrat typically ends up in the 30s, they’ll be satisfied with anything north of 40 percent, hopeful that it will position Ossoff to compete in the runoff.
The Republican (Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price) won here by nearly 24 points in 2016, but Trump won it by only 1.5 points, so the question is whether Trump’s awful performance puts it within Democrats’ reach.
* TRUMP TRIES TO JUICE TURNOUT IN GEORGIA RACE: Good morning, Mr. President:
This pretty much ensures that Tuesday’s results will be widely read as a referendum on Trump’s tenure thus far. (In my view, we should avoid overinterpreting the outcome, no matter what happens.)
* AND IVANKA’S BUSINESS PROSPERS AMID WHITE HOUSE ROLE: The Associated Press reports:
On April 6, Ivanka Trump’s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.
The scenario underscores how difficult it is for Trump, who has tried to distance herself from the brand that bears her name, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House.
This implies she wants to “separate business from politics.” Does the conduct of the Trump family suggest thus far that this is what they want?