On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer faced questions over how the president would pay for his proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The query came a few hours after Mexico's president canceled a meeting with Trump in Washington — something Trump had suggested on Twitter earlier in the day. Around the same time in the early afternoon, it was learned Trump fired four top officials at the State Department. Against this backdrop of international uncertainty, Spicer said the United States could pay for the wall by imposing a 20% tax on all goods imported from Mexico.
After an hour of media frenzy, Spicer was walking back that proposal. How many people saw the first headline, and not the second, is difficult to say. But the extremely fast-paced flow and shifting of the facts makes it challenging for anyone — voters, legislators, companies, journalists, foreign leaders — to know what policy is coming and if it will hold. So far, Trump's White House has pursued numerous executive orders that may not be within his realm of authority. Then there's the fact that Republicans are quiet as Trump signs executive orders at a furious pace — after blasting Barack Obama for doing the same.
Your reflection for this weekend: If Trump and his team do not change their approach, how much will the world adapt to meet it? Political journalism must change wildly. World leaders cannot expect measured deliberation from Washington. Voters must have better ways to stay informed about the rapid change Trump is bringing — they loathe him after his first week.
Something to watch: Trump is expected to appear at the Pentagon Friday afternoon to sign more executive orders. (Politico)
This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America — and how it affects you. Welcome to the political newsletter that wonders if we still have a weekend.
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"They don't understand this country"
"I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party." Those words from Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, baffled journalists and politicians alike on Thursday. Bannon also said the media should "keep its mouth shut." The New York Times story broke amid controversy about how Trump will pay for the wall.
The comments are not particularly surprising: Bannon has long demonstrated contempt for news organizations. But the blunt attack on the First Amendment and the role of journalists alarmed free speech advocates. Trump echoed Bannon's attack Thursday night, repeating his statement that the media is full of "dishonest people."
What do you think? Are journalists too biased or lacking trust to write about Trump? Are they a necessary component of our democracy? Reply to this email to weigh in.
All eyes on foreign meeting
British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Washington today to meet with Trump. It is the president's first visit with a foreign leader. Foreign leaders will be watching to see how May walks the tightrope between maintaining a friendship with Trump and appearing too close to him. The conservative leader of the United Kingdom faces her own tough questions about nationalism, trade and globalism with the details of Brexit coming into view.
Trump and May will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. This will be the first time Trump has faced questions at a presser since his inauguration.
Meanwhile, it seems Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak by phone on Saturday. (Associated Press) As Trump moved aggressively on domestic-focused executive orders, questions about the relationship between the president and the Russian leader have fallen out of the daily news cycle. Saturday's call is sure to bring those headlines back.
News and insight you cannot miss:
• Trump scheduled a call with the director of the National Park Service the day after his inauguration to demand additional photographs to demonstrate that crowds the day before were larger than many believed. (Washington Post)
• Towns that created laws with the goal of keeping undocumented immigrants outside the city limits have largely failed. That's a lesson for Trump's White House. (Washington Post)
• Trump declared his first full week in office as "National School Choice Week." (White House)
• The president delayed signing an executive order to investigate his unfounded claims that millions of people voted illegally. (USA Today)
• Mitt Romney is playing a role in the Trump administration. Apparently, many of Trump's moves in the first week have come from Romney's day one playbook. (BuzzFeed)
• A day after Trump's order about the wall, the head of the Border Patrol announced he will leave the agency. (CNN)
• In the wake of Trump's executive order banning immigration from certain Muslim countries, the U.S. has halted interviews with refugees seeking to enter the country. (Mic)
• How other countries are fighting climate change in spite of the U.S. policy shift. (Mic)