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Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Summer

Just one year into President Donald Trump’s term, global approval of U.S. leadership fell to its lowest point in nearly two decades, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday.

Gallup reported the most recent approval rating has plummeted to 30 percent from the 48 percent approval rating in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration, and is 4 points less than “the previous low of 34%” during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.

According to the poll, “disapproval of U.S. leadership increased almost as much as approval declined” with a 43% median disapproval, up 15 points from the previous year.

Gallup conducted interviews between March and November 2017 with approximately 1,000 adults aged at least 15 years old. Residents in 134 countries or areas were asked to rate U.S., German and Russian leadership. The poll’s margin of error is 5 percentage points.

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Just hours after President Donald Trump signed Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law on Friday, the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the legislation will not fully pay for itself through economic growth, despite GOP leadership’s claims.

In a new report, the committee said that the bill is not close to being deficit-neutral, despite the Trump administration’s and Republican leadership’s claims that the tax cuts in the legislation would completely pay for themselves.

After accounting for macroeconomic effects, the committee estimated that the bill will decrease federal revenue by $1.07 trillion over 10 years, a decrease from the $1.46 trillion price tag the committee initially put on the tax measure.

The committee’s new findings echoed its analysis published last month, only hours before the Senate tax bill vote.

Read the full report here:

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The chaos before the storm?

Thursday night reports from Politico and the Washington Post illustrate the GOP’s worries over “a possible bloodbath in the 2018 midterms” following losses this fall in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has said privately that both chambers could be lost in November,” Politico reported. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told donors that “he fears a wave of swing district Republican lawmakers could retire rather than seek reelection,” per Politico.

According to Politico, those close to Trump said he’s well aware of the GOP’s dangers heading into 2018, although he’s reportedly shrugged off setbacks such as Roy Moore’s loss in the Alabama Senate race.

Trump advisers have reportedly stepped in to warn Trump directly about how the GOP’s congressional majority is at stake heading into midterms.

Within hours of celebrating Trump’s legislative win with the tax bill Wednesday, a late afternoon meeting quickly turned into an airing of grievances over how the White House manages the GOP and handles its strategy heading into midterm season. In attendance were White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway, political director Bill Stepien, marketing and data specialist Brad Parscale, communications director Hope Hicks, and political consultant Corey Lewandowski, according to Politico and the Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported that there are “strains inside the White House among the political affairs team, the RNC and some of Trump’s closest counselors on the outside” who are all “competing for Trump’s ear.”

White House advisers told the Post that Kelly “occasionally grumbled about the RNC and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel” and that “the RNC is not doing enough to defend the president and that its communications and political operation need to be improved — with more Trump loyalists installed.”

McDaniel herself has told RNC officials that her members are “sometimes at odds” with the White House, per the Washington Post. This tension became especially evident when Trump agreed to pull RNC support from Roy Moore’s campaign, but ended up backing Moore anyway and forcing the RNC to reverse its stance, the Post reported.

Several White House officials told the Post they doubt any major changes will happen at the RNC, but “there is talk of putting more Trump people at the organization or trying to take more control.”

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A Washington Post report Friday night offers a window into President Donald Trump’s often tense relationship with former Massachusetts governor and frequent critic Mitt Romney.

The tension reportedly even boils down to how Romney’s niece, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, ended up dropping her maiden name in public settings. Nowadays, it is generally absent in Republican Party news releases and social-media accounts.

WaPo notes a specific request from Trump earlier this year for McDaniel to stop using her maiden name publicly as she took over as RNC Chair. Advisers said the request happened when Trump told others that mention of the name Romney “often prompted boos at his events.”

A senior Trump administration official and adviser told WaPo the President was “pleased” when McDaniel mostly stopped using the Romney moniker.

McDaniel’s maiden name drop is just one piece of the puzzle in the strife between Trump and Mitt Romney. WaPo mentions Trump’s snub of Romney’s reported consideration of a Senate run by indicating that he would support Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) if the senator decided to run for re-election.

Although Romney has yet to announce a Senate run, one conservative strategist who spoke anonymously to WaPo expressed that “if elected, Mitt Romney would take the role as America’s number one ‘never Trumper.’”

Similar sentiments were echoed when sources close to Romney told TPM in October that while he was initially not keen on a Senate run, the retirements of Trump-critical Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) and John McCain’s (R-AZ) ongoing health problems have left a void Romney thinks desperately needs to be filled.

The strategist also anticipated that a Romney run would mean “a full-on carpet bombing from conservatives coming his way.”

Earlier this week at a rally for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, former White House adviser Steve Bannon attacked Romney by alleging he hid behind his religion to avoid in the Vietnam War. However, top Utah GOP lawmakers clapped back at Bannon’s remarks.

Officials at the White House and RNC declined WaPo’s request for comment on the exchange between Trump and McDaniel on dropping her maiden name.

Cassie Smedile, a GOP spokeswoman for McDaniel, called the fuss over the matter “silly” as she pointed to recent fundraiser invites in which the RNC had used McDaniel’s full name, while claiming there was no internal prohibition on using Romney.

The White House also declined WaPo’s request for comment.

“The president has full confidence in the chairwoman who has led the Republican Party toward record-breaking fundraising,” White House spokesperson Raj S. Shah told WaPo.

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A New York Times report Saturday detailed President Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with TV news and his heavy consumption of it.

People close to Trump estimate that he spends “at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television,” sometimes on mute, “marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.”

Trump reportedly begins his day around 5:30 each morning tuning into TV in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for “comfort and messaging ideas,” and sometimes MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because it “fires him up for the day.”

Aides also monitor “Fox & Friends” in the morning “the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.” They’ve learned that if Trump does not immediately tweet about “something memorable” on Fox, he may be saving it for later viewing on his “Super TiVo” recorder and instead watch MSNBC or CNN live—both of which put him “in a foul mood to start the day.”

These habits set the stage for how the “ammunition for his Twitter war is television.”

In Trump’s world, “no one touches the remote control” except for himself and the technical support staff. He reportedly “keeps an eye on scrolling headlines” on a 60-inch screen during dining room meetings.

As he watches the news, he “shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.”

However, Trump doesn’t like being viewed as someone who watches so much TV that it “reinforces the criticism that he is not taking the job seriously.”

NYT notes that during his recent trip to Asia, Trump was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his “prodigious television watching habits.” Trump then pushed back on the assertion—and slammed the media while at it.

“I know they like to say—people that don’t know me—they like to say I watch television,” Trump said. “People with fake sources—you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents a lot.”

Trump’s constant need to consume TV is reportedly chronic enough that one former top adviser told NYT that he “grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”

NYT’s insider look into Trump’s TV news consumption habits comes the same day he railed against CNN and ABC over erroneous reports.

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Another lawmaker joins in the chorus of those vehemently opposed to Trump’s Saturday visit to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opening.

Trump’s visit to the museum already began facing backlash in the days leading up to the event, most notably with civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis skipping it due to finding the President’s attendance as an “insult.”

Hours before the event, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) went on MSNBC to voice the hypocrisy behind Trump’s visit, citing how the President “has been antithetical to the movements that are in place currently to help African Americans.”

“He’s opposed to Black Lives Matter,” Green said. “He’s opposed to the efforts by the football players to take on police brutality.”

Green also expressed Trump’s attendance as a vanity move.

“He’s just going for the wrong reasons,” Green said. “He can have his photo op, but he won’t have the opportunity to have the credibility of persons who have rich histories in civil rights associated with him to add any degree of legitimacy to his effort.”

This isn’t the first time Green unleashed his fierce opposition to the President. He most recently made headlines with the House overwhelmingly voting to kill his Trump impeachment effort.

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“[The media has] been apologizing left and right,” Trump said during his campaign rally in Florida Friday night.

So began Trump’s first whack at responding to CNN’s major correction to a report on an email pointing Trump and top aides to hacked documents released by WikiLeaks prior to their publication.

“[CNN] should have been apologizing for the last two years,” Trump said amid cheers from the crowd.

Trump didn’t hesitate to throw ABC under the bus as well for “fraudster” Brian Ross’ erroneous report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, claiming the network should’ve fired the now suspended reporter.

President Trump: "Did you see all the corrections the media has been making? … They never apologize."

Posted by Washington Examiner on Friday, December 8, 2017

Trump wasn’t quite done with his latest tirade against the media as his Saturday morning tweets echoed the same sentiment from the night before.

CNN’s Friday afternoon correction came hours after the Washington Post published a report based on a copy of the email obtained by the newspaper’s reporters.

Trump’s latest hit against CNN comes off the heels of speculation surrounding the Dept. Of Justice’s complaint to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner (the news network’s parent company) and the network deciding to ditch this year’s White House Christmas party.

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There’s more to the business ties between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Kremlin-aligned oligarch, NBC News reported Friday night.

NBC found a previously unreported $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and the Putin-friendly billionaire oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

Citing financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands, NBC reports the loan brings a grand total of their business dealings over the past decade to around $60 million.

According to the documents, funds were sent from a Deripaska-owned company to Manafort-linked entities registered in Cyprus.

Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni, who is subpoenaed with his client by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, released a statement to NBC: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”

NBC said Maloni later revised the statement, removing that sentence entirely: “Recent news reports indicate Mr. Manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. He has called for the U.S. Government to release any intercepts involving him and non-Americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. Mr. Manafort did not collude with the Russian government.”

It’s been previously reported that Deripaska did business with Manafort in the mid-2000s. The Associated Press reported in March that the aluminum magnate negotiated a $10 million lobbying contract with Manafort to do work that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

Earlier this month, The Atlantic obtained a 2016 email correspondence between Manafort and his longtime business partner Konstantin Kilimnik that appears to be an effort to get back in the good graces of the oligarch. In some of the emails, Kilimnik seemed to signal to Manafort that he had been forwarding to a Deripaska aide named Victor media coverage of the work Manafort was doing for the Trump campaign.

A spokesperson for Deripaska denied that the Russian oligarch received any of the emails or was otherwise in contact with Manafort at the time, according to The Atlantic.

Maloni told The Atlantic the emails were “innocuous” and that it was “no secret Mr. Manafort was owed money by past clients.” However, Deripaska’s spokesperson rebutted the suggestion that Deripaska owed Manafort money.

Manafort’s foreign dealings, which include his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, are a key part of the federal investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Kremlin operatives.

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Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said President Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020 by an overwhelming success in electoral votes.

“President Trump is not only going to finish this term, he’s going to win with 400 electoral votes in 2020,” Bannon said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Saturday.

Despite Bannon’s latest display of confidence in Trump, his remarks at the summit come three days after Vanity Fair reported a source saying he’s told people that Trump only has a 30 percent chance of finishing his first term as president.

During his speech, Bannon cited “the populist, nationalist, conservative revolt that’s going on, that drove Donald Trump to victory, that drove Judge [Roy] Moore to victory, that will drive 15 candidates to victory in 2018″ as reasons for the President’s future successful re-election bid that he’s already begun campaigning for.

Bannon also mentioned his intention to “get to the progressive Democrats,” but said that “a season of war against the GOP establishment” takes top priority.

Bannon echoed similar sentiments on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Monday evening where he said he is starting a “coalition” to “declare war on the Republican establishment.” He claimed that about 15 names will be announced in the next several weeks of people who will be challenging incumbents, some of whom work in government and others who have served the Trump agenda as “outsiders.”

Bannon broke with Trump by rallying for former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in the primary run-off election last month.

Trump won last year’s presidential election with 304 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 227.

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The Trump-Corker feud rages on.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) sees Trump’s “public castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as undermining efforts to make China an ally in preventing nuclear destruction by North Korea, according to the Washington Post.

Corker’s Friday comments come just days after his on-the-record interview with the New York Times where he said the President has acted “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something” and that Trump could set the country “on the path to World War III.” Trump retorted by saying he “[w]as made to sound a fool” by the Times.

Corker argues Trump’s mistreatment of Tillerson invites “binary” situations in which the U.S. will have to choose between war and nuke threats from North Korea or Iran.

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told WaPost in a phone interview Friday.

Corker also called out Trump’s tweets toying with these fraught tensions “very irresponsible.”

“The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part” — the “castration” of Tillerson — “that I am most exercised about.”

Corker feels Tillerson has been key in paving the path towards quiet diplomacy with China away from confrontation with North Korea.

“The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way. Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal,” Corker said. “When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart. Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.”

Earlier this month, Trump said he told Tillerson to “save his energy” when it comes to negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and that the United States will “do what has to be done” instead.

Trump maintained on Wednesday that he and Tillerson have “a very good relationship,” despite reports that the secretary of state wanted to resign this summer and called Trump a “moron” when the President said he wanted to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Corker, who announced in late September that his current Senate term would be his last, has been a rare voice within the Republican conference for his open criticism of the President’s conduct in office.

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