With the anti-Trump outrage machine daily discovering new cylinders it didn’t know it had, it can be difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise for business interests in the new Washington. Amid the bluster and blowback, the half-century old admonition from then-incoming Nixon attorney general John Mitchell to “watch what we do, not what we say” offers one strategy. But it gives insufficient credit to the performative dimension of a new breed of presidency, one that willed itself into being and sustains through the media. That is, to an arguably unprecedented degree, what this president says is what he does.
As we’ve seen, Trump’s megaphone works both for him and against him. He’s burnished his already-great summoning power by demonstrating with a single tweet or utterance he can erase billions of dollars in real-world value from companies that cross him. But his read-fire-aim style has also doubtlessly contributed to record-high disapproval ratings for such a young administration that, if the trend lines hold, will hobble his ability to press his agenda on Capitol Hill.
This week has already provided more evidence in both directions. The Trump administration’s risible claim that the press insufficiently covers terrorism prompted a knee-jerk response to correct the record. Cable networks especially took the bait, devoting two days to talking about their coverage of recent attacks. And it amounted to a highlight reel helping drive the administration’s message that the danger they’re seeking to address — including through a travel ban that’s galvanized business opposition — remains clear and present.
But last night, in a hearing on the ban before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Washington State’s solicitor general invoked Trump’s running commentary on his own actions to argue an unconstitutional religious test lay behind the administration’s executive order. Once the three-justice panel in San Francisco issues a ruling, the case is expected to land at the Supreme Court, where Trump administration lawyers could need to more squarely confront Trump’s pronouncements. Maybe then the best judges in the land can show the rest of us how to weigh the president’s words against his actions.
Former Secretary of State James Baker, who’s set to meet with top White House officials today, and a number of other elder GOP statesmen are calling for a tax on carbon pollution as the most market-friendly means of addressing climate change.
After CEOs of major tech, retail and financial services firms spoke out against Trump’s executive order, leaders of smaller biotechs are following suit. A new missive from the industry gathered signatures from CEOs, life science venture capitalists and top academics worried about harm to the industry and its research.
Some of the tech firms now rallying opposition to Trump’s travel ban contributed handsomely to his inaugural just weeks ago.
If Trump imposes punitive tariffs of up to 10% on Chinese goods, the country’s exports to the U.S. could fall by as much as 25%; Chinese retaliation could cost the U.S. a quarter-point of economic growth.
Oversight Committee chair who investigated Hillary’s emails unlikely to probe Trump’s conflicts of interest [NY Daily News]
After meeting privately with the president in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz said he probably won’t probe potential issues with Trump’s business ties.
Number of the day
The number of voters backing Trump’s ban on refugees and others from seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll. The survey reveals a stark partisan split on the issue, with 82% of Republicans supporting the order while 65% of Democrats oppose it. It also carried a flashing warning signal for the White House: Trump’s disapproval rating has risen 5 points to 46% over his first two weeks in office.
$100 BILLION FUND: There’s more to investing in the US than betting on Trump [Business Insider]
Trump administration to approve final permit for Dakota Access pipeline [Washington Post]