The Point: Here's how the White House tried to explain Trump's terror tweets

September 15, 2017  by Chris Cillizza and Saba Hamedy

Here's how the White House tried to explain Trump's terror tweets

At 6:42 a.m., the President of the United States started tweeting about the terror incident in the London Underground.

"These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!," read that first Trump tweet.

Let's pause there. Any reasonable person reading that tweet would assume that Trump had been briefed on the origins of these alleged attackers and, as part of that briefing, had been told that the British had these people on some sort of watch list.

Apparently that wasn't what Trump meant, however. Check out the explanation of the tweet offered by national security adviser H.R. McMaster at a Friday press briefing at the White House:

"What the President was communicating is that obviously all of our law enforcement efforts are focused on this terrorism threat for years. Scotland Yard has been a leader, and our FBI has been a leader. So I think if there was a terrorist attack here, God forbid, that we would say that they were in the sights of the FBI. So I think he didn't mean anything beyond that."


So, what Trump was doing when he said these "sick and demented people were in the sights of Scotland Yard" was that Scotland Yard monitors terrorism? Or something?

The blurriness of McMaster's answer speaks to just how difficult it is to hold these senior jobs within the Trump White House. If McMaster was given truth serum before the press briefing, he's likely to have said something like: "The President was watching TV and tweeted out something he heard. That's it."

But when you are the national security adviser, you don't get to do that. And so McMaster was forced to twist himself into a pretzel to explain a Trump tweet that defied any rational explanation. 

And, there's a decent chance that Trump will say something over the next few days about the "Scotland Yard" tweet that will undermine the "explanation" that McMaster provided on Friday.  

This is life with Trump. He tweets -- and the rest of us (including his senior staff) spend hours and sometimes days or weeks trying to look for meaning. It's a hell of a way to do business -- especially when you are dealing with something as important as national security and terrorism.

-- Chris


CNN's Ryan Struyk back at it with his numbers analysis. Here's his latest: 

It's not every year that Republicans and Democrats get single-party rule to try to pass their agenda through a unified House, Senate and White House. So how's the GOP doing in 2017? Trump has signed 58 laws -- the fewest (by a couple laws) of any recent unified government. He's signed 1,152 pages of legislation -- just more than half the number that Obama had signed at this point in 2009, but in line with Bush in 2003 and Clinton in 1993. As for Congress? They've taken 726 roll-call votes so far -- trailing the 973 votes that Pelosi and Reid took to date in 2009.

Read Ryan's full story here.


Whatever happened to the Bookmobile?

Politico's Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey take us inside Trump's Democratic dalliance

Stu Rothenberg's primer on how to spot a political wave in 2018

The isolation of Trump by Michael Kruse

WaPo's Carlos Lozada reviews the Katy Tur campaign book I want to read

Being Jemele Hill by The Ringer's Bryan Curtis (of whom I am a big fan)

Seth MacFarlane did an AMA on Reddit


Beck dropped a music video for his new single earlier this month. The song, "Up All Night," is not our favorite Beck jam but it's still pretty catchy.


Photo courtesy: Tal Kopan/Twitter
CNN's Tal Kopan watched a naturalization ceremony in DC on Friday, which took place at the National Archives, right next to the Constitution. She reflected on her experience for The Point:

It was an undeniably emotional experience to watch 30 new US citizens sworn in this morning while flanked by the original Constitution of the United States and Declaration of Independence. We hear the national anthem all the time at sporting events, for example, but this was a rare instance that hearing it filled my eyes with tears as I thought about how meaningful it must be for the new Americans and their families. And yet I couldn't shake the jarring juxtaposition of the Department of Homeland Security secretary lauding immigrants' contributions to society and the debate raging about the future of immigration policy raging just up Pennsylvania Avenue from the National Archives.


President Trump's unlikely deal with "Chuck and Nancy" garnered a lot of strong reactions. CNN's Sarah Mucha rounded up of some of the most interesting thoughts seen in editorial pages and in Twitter feeds.
  • Joe Scarborough in Washington Post op-ed: "But Hannity, Bannon and King are about to learn the same lesson that Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Jeff Zucker, Mika Brzezinski and I discovered in 2016: With Trump, it is never over. His base will stick with him no matter what — no matter how loudly and how often the other self-styled leaders of that base take to Twitter or talk radio or any other platform to bleat that Trump has betrayed them."
  • Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: "So go ahead and cut that deal, Mr. President, and include a path to citizenship too. After Neil Gorsuch's nomination and deregulation, it would be the biggest achievement of your Presidency." 
  • Trump's base: The Washington Post's Philip Bump created a Twitter account that automatically retweets the President's 45 constantly rotating followed accounts, simulating what Trump sees when he loads the application. One member of his base tweeted a video of a red MAGA hat engulfed in flames and used the hashtag "#AmnestyDon #burnmyMAGAhat."


Photo credit: Screenshot/Instagram/Marlon Bundo
CNN's Betsy Klein writes:

Marlon Bundo, the Pence family rabbit with his own Instagram account, announced Friday that he is the star of a new book. 

"Marlon Bundo's 'A Day in the Life of the Vice President,'" due out March 19, will chronicle the BOTUS' (Bunny of the United States) day alongside "Grampa'" Mike Pence.

'"Marlon has become a national celebrity!" a press release for the book reads.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit A21, an organization focused on combating human trafficking, and two art therapy programs, a key aspect of the second lady's platform. 

You can follow Marlon on Instagram here and read Betsy's full story here.


"Do the women get to talk around here?"
--Reportedly what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asked at the White House dinner on Wednesday night over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (per The Washington Post)


TGIF! May you have as much fun this weekend as Frank "FX" Giaccio did mowing the White House lawn. Oh, and tell people you know to subscribe.
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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