Here’s where things stand heading into Day 96 of the Trump administration:
President Trump is getting closer to his 100th day in office, and without a major legislative achievement, he has his eye on this week’s tax and tariff announcements as a way to show progress for his agenda.
Trump plans to unveil principles for restructuring the tax code Wednesday, laying down a marker ahead of what is expected to be a long and complex process in Congress. On Monday, the Trump administration also said it plans to impose a 20 percent tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, in what could become the biggest trade dispute between the United States and Canada in more than a decade.
The U.S. corporate tax rate is another target for the administration. White House officials are indicating that Trump plans to stick by his campaign pledge to cut that rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, a larger cut than House Republicans had proposed. This will be part of Trump’s announcement Wednesday.
TRUMP’S OTHER METRIC FOR SUCCESS? TV RATINGS.
As the 100-day mark approaches, television ratings are also on the president’s mind.
Trump was a reality-show host and cable-news commentator long before he was a political candidate, and the way television has influenced his thinking and approach to public office is becoming more apparent the longer he is in office.
Take this comment from a working lunch at the White House last month. One attendee, wondering about job security in Trump’s administration, asked whether White House press secretary Sean Spicer might be the first top aide to depart.
“I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump said in response, our colleagues reported. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”
Not all of Trump’s comments about ratings are so benign.
The president is receiving criticism for telling the Associated Press, in an interview published Sunday, that his presence on CBS’s “Face the Nation” pushed its viewership to its highest level “since the World Trade Center came down.”
“It’s the highest for ‘Face the Nation,’ or as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation,'” Trump said. “It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center. … It’s a tremendous advantage.”
THE LATEST ON THE SHUTDOWN WATCH
Congress is back in town this week with one major task: avoiding a government shutdown late Friday, when current funds run out.
Trump might or might not make this more difficult.
Since the weekend, Trump has hammered away on Twitter at the need for the next funding package to include money for a wall along the southern U.S. border. Democrats, whose votes are necessary to approve a funding bill in the Senate, have said they will not agree to this.
The stalemate seemed to hold for much of Monday, at least publicly, with Trump continuing to tweet about the need to fund the wall. But White House officials signaled at the same time that the president might be open to a bill that would fund border security measures but not an actual wall.
Trump has also opened the door to getting the wall funding this fall instead of this week, a White House official confirmed to our colleague.
Negotiations are continuing as the clock ticks down toward Friday night.
STATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE FEATURES MAR-A-LAGO
Trump’s private club in Palm Beach has come to symbolize the range of potential conflicts of interest he faces at the White House.
That’s because Mar-a-Lago isn’t just a private estate where Trump spends his weekends. It’s a part of his business empire, a place where private individuals pay hefty membership fees for the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the president, administration officials and foreign dignitaries. Depending on the night, members might even watch Trump formulate a national-security response in real time, as took place in mid-February.
This already makes Trump critics uncomfortable. So it’s no wonder there was an outcry Monday as watchdog groups circulated a federal website that recently featured Mar-a-Lago in a travelogue-style blog piece.
The website, which is affiliated with the State Department, promotes travel to the United States. Its choice to feature Mar-a-Lago raises the question: Is the federal government improperly promoting Trump’s businesses?
The website took down the post late Monday and replaced it with a message that sought to address concerns. “The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception,” the message stated.
Follow the author: @eliseviebeck.