The Point: Donald Trump, 2.0

September 7, 2017  by Chris Cillizza and Saba Hamedy

Donald Trump, 2.0

Less than 24 hours removed from his surprise deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling, President Donald Trump seemed to suggest there was more of that sort of bipartisanship on the way.

"You are going to see a much stronger coming together," Trump promised Thursday afternoon. 

That line -- grammatically awkward as it may be -- has to send a shiver up the spines of Republicans who have long feared that the always-flexible beliefs of the President could boomerang against them despite their total control over the legislative and executive branches.

And it's sure to make the already-thrilled Democrats on Capitol Hill even more optimistic about what a Trump focused solely on deal-making -- as opposed to ideological rigor -- could mean for them going forward.

(The news -- via the Washington Post -- that Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have a "gentleman's agreement" to try to rid the Congress of the responsibility of raising the debt ceiling will only add to that sense of euphoria.)

But, here's the thing: The one consistent thing about Donald Trump is his inconsistency. All the promised pivots, all the new leafs, all the second acts -- not one of them has ever lasted.

The Donald Trump of September 7, 2017, is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same Donald Trump of 10 years ago, of 20 years ago -- hell, of 50 years ago.

Trump is a 71-year-old man. He's had massive success in business and in politics. The idea that he would suddenly become something he hasn't been his entire life is, frankly, outlandish.

This week -- and it's only Thursday -- Trump has leaned into making deals with Democrats. Next week? Heck, tomorrow? Who knows?

That massive uncertainty, weirdly, should cheer Republicans and give Democrats some pause amid their current excitement.

-- Chris

MENENDEZ TRIAL MADNESS: A REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

CNN's Laura Jarrett  is in New Jersey this week covering New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez's trial -- which began Wednesday -- in a federal court in Newark. 

Here's more from Laura:

A luxurious hotel room in Paris took center stage on day two of Sen. Menendez's federal corruption trial in New Jersey as the prosecution called its first witness. In case you weren't following along yesterday, Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist, are on trial facing 18 counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud. 

The prosecution tried to highlight the details of the hotel room's opulence with "a limestone bath with soaking tub and enclosed rain shower, views of the courtyard or streets." But the judge escorted the jury out twice Thursday, chiding both sides, saying he was not going to allow this to become a "tabloid trial."

Menendez and Melgen maintain they are innocent and the prosecution has wrongly twisted a 25-year friendship into a nefarious bribery scheme.

CHRIS' GOOD READS

There was A LOT of good stuff on the Internet today. Congrats, everyone!

CNN's Elise Labott on how Nikki Haley is winning

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Donald Trump's attempted negation of Barack Obama

A falafel battle in Beirut by The New York Times' Somini Sengupta

Eamon Javers found the original most interesting man in the world

On acid and no-hitters by Mental Floss' Jake Rossen

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

NPR Music -- which is amazing -- is streaming the new National album "Sleep Well Beast."

BETSY BACK AT IT

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Thursday that she intends to overhaul Obama-era Title IX guidance on campus sexual assault. A reminder: In July, DeVos sparked backlash after holding a series of "listening sessions" for various groups impacted by Title IX, including representatives from a men's rights group.

CNN's Sophie Tatum writes:

Title IX is a federal policy that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and programs that receive federal funding. This includes protection from sexual harassment. 

In 2011, the Obama administration outlined guidelines for schools on how to handle sexual assault cases. The memo required schools to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education. Critics, including DeVos, have said the guidance is unfair toward the accused.


"The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved," DeVos said, speaking at George Mason University's Arlington, Virginia, campus.

The new plan, in DeVos' words, is to "launch a transparent notice-and-comment process to incorporate the insights of all parties in developing a better way."

#StopBetsy is now a trending hashtag on Twitter.

Read Sophie's full story here.

DON JR. ON THE HILL

Donald Trump Jr., the President's oldest son, issued a statement after meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. He said he met with Hill staffers for more than five hours. Sources told CNN that Trump Jr. "did not recall the details of White House involvement in the public response to his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and did not know much about the Air Force One meeting that allegedly led to the production of the statement."

#SHEISTHEFIRST

Photo courtesy: Screenshot/TIME
TIME Magazine published an amazing list of "Firsts: Women Who Are Changing The World." Among the politicians who made the list: Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Rep. Ilhan Omar (the first Somali-American Muslim person to become a legislator) and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.

(BTW all 12 TIME Covers were shot by photographer Luisa Dörr on her iPhone. Read about that here and here).

FEINSTEIN FALLOUT?

Earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein came under fire for suggesting DACA is on shaky legal ground. This was not the first time the California Democrat has been criticized for not speaking out strongly enough against President Donald Trump.
 
Last week, during an appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, Feinstein generated more outrage after encouraging people to "have some patience" regarding President Donald Trump.

"I think we have to have some patience, I do," Feinstein said. "It's eight months into the tenure of the presidency. ... We'll have to see if he can forget himself and his feelings about himself enough to be able to have the empathy and direction that this country needs."

Saba decided to talk to some political experts about if this recent backlash would hurt the senator should she decide to run again in 2018. Many said even with recent resistance toward Feinstein, she wouldn't face much competition should she decide to run again. 

"She's well known, well funded and well organized," Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a University of Southern California professor, told CNN. "She's a very popular politician, it would be difficult for anybody else but Dianne Feinstein to win, assuming the election were today or tomorrow."

Others say her recent centric comments could be problematic.

"Sen. Feinstein has been a very effective senator for a long time and she will be a heavy favorite if she does run for re-election," Brian Fallon, a CNN political commentator and former press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, told CNN. "But her impulse to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt when he does not deserve it only fuels her critics."

Read Saba's full story here.

PAUL RYAN SHAKES IT OFF

Photo courtesy: Screengrab/YouTube/New York Times
House Speaker Paul Ryan is seemingly not shocked by President Donald Trump cutting a debt ceiling deal with Democrats, which came hours after Ryan called the Democrats' proposal "ridiculous" at a news conference.

"Yeah, I sort of noticed that," Ryan joked during an event hosted  by The New York Times at Washington's Newseum on Thursday.

Jokes aside, Ryan said he "completely understands" why Trump made that call.

"He wanted to have a bipartisan response and not a food fight on the timing of the debt limit attached to this bill," Ryan said. "That's what I believe his motivation was."

Read CNN's Lauren Fox's full story here.

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We'd love to share our other newsletters with you. Follow this link for daily coverage of the world's top stories, savvy market insights, an insider's look into the media, and more. Our authors for The Point are Chris Cillizza and Saba Hamedy. Send your tips and thoughts via email to Chris or Saba. Follow on Twitter: Chris and Saba.
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