* Stephanie Ruhle and Peter Alexander report that President Trump made his tariff decision with all the careful deliberation we’ve come to expect:
With global markets shaken by President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to impose strict tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the president went into battle mode on Friday: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he wrote on Twitter.
But the public show of confidence belies the fact that Trump’s policy maneuver, which may ultimately harm U.S. companies and American consumers, was announced without any internal review by government lawyers or his own staff, according to a review of an internal White House document.
According to two officials, Trump’s decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.
On Wednesday evening, the president became “unglued,” in the words of one official familiar with the president’s state of mind.
Of course, that presumes that before then he was glued.
* Clayton Swisher and Ryan Grim report that Jared Kushner’s foreign policy work and his family’s financial interests have some interesting overlaps:
The real estate firm tied to the family of presidential son-in-law and top White House adviser Jared Kushner made a direct pitch to Qatar’s minister of finance in April 2017 in an attempt to secure investment in a critically distressed asset in the company’s portfolio, according to two sources. At the previously unreported meeting, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, who runs Kushner Companies, and Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi discussed financing for the Kushners’ signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City.
The 30-minute meeting, according to two sources in the financial industry who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the potential transaction, included aides to both parties, and was held at a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.
A follow-up meeting was held the next day in a glass-walled conference room at the Kushner property itself, though Al Emadi did not attend the second gathering in person.
The failure to broker the deal would be followed only a month later by a Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided critical support to Qatar’s neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Kushner’s backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.
Is this proof that Jared used American foreign policy to punish the Qataris for not bailing his family out of their disastrous investment in 666 Fifth Avenue? Not necessarily. Maybe that had nothing to do with the steps he took. But it shows the kind of spectacular conflict of interest that runs through the Trump administration.
* John Harwood gets this just right: Even if there’s no further evidence of “collusion,” what we already know about Trump, the people around him, and Russia is pretty damning.
* Alexia Fernández Campbell has a rundown of all the major industries that are upset at the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
* Ariel Edwards-Levy explains why there could be a genuine change in public opinion on guns underway.
* Amanda Marcotte examines unchecked sexual harassment within the atheist activism community.