Another dysfunctional and combative week in the Trump Era

Image: Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. and other Democrats, talk to the media after meeting with President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room on April 30, 2019. Copyright Evan Vucci AP
Copyright Evan Vucci AP
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — The week began with President Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer hailing progress on infrastructure. (Yay, Infrastructure Week finally delivering!)

And it ends after Pelosi, the speaker of the House, accused the attorney general of the United States of lying to Congress. (Oh no, there goes Infrastructure Week!)

That's not to mention yet another potential Trump nominee — this time, possible Fed pick Stephen Moore — going from "full speed ahead" to out of contention in a matter of hours.

This whiplash — including Trump's "it's time to get back to business" tweet from this morning — underscores the governmental dysfunction of the Trump Era.

And all of the political combat that goes with it.

It's difficult for a president to negotiate in good faith when his administration doesn't view Congress as a co-equal branch of government.

It's also difficult for Democratic leaders to sell bipartisan deals to their rank-and-file after what's transpired over the last two years.

The bare minimum on Capitol Hill gets done — and even that becomes quite a lift. (Remember the longest government shutdown in American history?)

And, yes, Trump fills more court vacancies and takes more executive actions.

But everything else? It's as dysfunctional as it gets.

NYT: FBI sent investigator to meet with Trump aide in 2016

The lead of this New York Times story is definitely eye-catching:

"The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia?"

"The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation."

But it's this part at the end that will likely spur the next tweetstorm from President Trump: The FBI had an informant attending Trump White House meetings.

"[Evan Halper] was invited as part of a group of China experts to meet with White House advisers in 2017. Mr. Halper informed the F.B.I. of the invitation but was not provided with any guidance, people familiar with the episode said."

"The group met briefly with Peter Navarro, the president's top trade representative, who had interviewed Mr. Halper years earlier at Mr. Halper's home in Virginia for a documentary. According to Axios, the administration also considered Mr. Halper for an ambassadorship."

2020 Vision: The center has been holding — so far

For all of the talk of socialism inside the Democratic Party and attention on figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the center has been holding its ground in the early 2020 Dem presidential race.

Joe Biden is leading in the polls.


Quite a few Dem candidates - like Biden, Amy Klobuchar and new entrant Michael Bennet - are promising a public option on health care instead of single-payer.

And Pete Buttigieg says free college tuition isn't progressive, because that benefits the most fortunate in society.

Now this doesn't mean that Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren won't win the Dem nomination - they very well could.

And it also doesn't mean the Democratic Party as a whole is much more liberal and progressive than it was in 2016 - it very well is.

But if your litmus tests are Medicare for All, free college and pragmatism versus progressivism, then the field is much more ideologically diverse than you might have thought two months ago.


On the campaign trail

Today: Elizabeth Warren stumps in Ames, Iowa… John Hickenlooper is in New Hampshire… Both Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg are in Texas… And Kamala Harris raises money in California.

Saturday: Warren, Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke and Amy Klobuchar campaign in the Hawkeye State… O'Rourke also delivers a commencement address in Dallas… Hickenlooper remains in New Hampshire… Joe Biden hits South Carolina… And Buttigieg raises money in the Lone Star State.

Sunday: Warren, Sanders and O'Rourke remain in Iowa… Biden stays in South Carolina… And Harris speaks at an NAACP dinner in Detroit, Mich.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 62


That's the number of administration nominees Trump has withdrawn since taking office, according to data provided to POLITICO by the Partnership for Public Service.


And that's only the official count of those who were formally nominated in the first place, so it doesn't include those who took themselves out of contention earlier in the nomination process.

The 62 tally more than doubles the amount of nominees (30) President Barack Obama had withdrawn at this point in his presidency.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Center of attention

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we noted how the center of the 2020 Dem field is stronger than many might have suspected a few months ago.

ICYMI: This week's overlooked stories

Mueller's letter to Barr! Barr's Senate testimony! Barr's no-show before the House! Biden's bump in the polls! Those were the political stories that dominated the week.

But here are the overlooked stories that would have been bigger news in any other era.

  1. Emails show Trump admin had 'no way to link' separated migrant children to parents.
  2. Exclusive: Foreign government leases at Trump World Tower stir more emoluments concerns.
  3. Former security clearance chief denies White House aides pressured him.
  4. Medicare for All Could Trim Costs, Impede Care, Report Says

Other news that's out there today…

Bernie Sanders' past gun votes are becoming an issue again.

Amy Klobuchar is out with a new plan to treat mental illness and substance abuse.

Alex Seitz-Wald looks at Democrats' efforts to pull in more really, really, really small donors.

Trump's team is getting anxious about Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection.


And the mayor of Baltimore is out amid mounting scandals.

Trump agenda: The AG he always wanted

The Washington Post calls Bill Barr the AG that Trump has always wanted.

President Trump is facing roadblocks as he tries to further juice the U.S economy.

The Wall Street Journal notes that there could be long term consequences to the current clashes between the White House and Congress.

2020: Harris is back in the spotlight

Kamala Harris is trying to muscle her way back into the spotlight, writes the AP.


2020 campaigns are trying to figure out the best way to manage cybersecurity.

Is the GOP getting itself in trouble by blowing off the Green New Deal?

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