TRUMP AGENDA: The profanity heard ‘round the world
From Ali Vitali, Kasie Hunt and Frank Thorp V: “President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries" during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on Thursday's meeting told NBC News. Trump's comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the nations referred to by Trump also included El Salvador. Two sources briefed on the conversation say that during the portion of the conversation about Haiti — which came at the top of the exchange that led to the “shithole” comment — the president questioned why Haitians should be given specific consideration.”
More, in the Washington Post, which broke the story: “Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt they help the United States economically… A White House spokesman defended Trump’s position on immigration without directly addressing his remarks. White House officials did not dispute the account.”
And/but, here’s what Trump tweeted this morning, appearing to deny the reporting: “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!”
And in the New York Times: “The comments were reminiscent of ones the president made last year in an Oval Office meeting with cabinet officials and administration aides, during which he complained about admitting Haitians to the country, saying that they all had AIDS, as well as Nigerians, who he said would never go back to their “huts,” according to officials who heard the statements in person or were briefed on the remarks by people who had. The White House vehemently denied last month that Mr. Trump made those remarks.”
NBC’s Jonathan Allen notes that the comments may mean that Trump loses leverage in the immigration debate.
Immigrants are responding to the comments by asking Trump why he doesn’t want them coming to America.
How does Trump’s vulgar slur translate in other countries? AFP is on the case.
Trump gave an extensive interview to the Wall Street Journal and signaled openness to diplomacy with North Korea.
Trump is canceling his trip the U.K. and blaming the Obama administration. NBC’s Phil Helsel and Saphora Smith: “President Donald Trump has canceled a trip to London to open the new U.S. Embassy, blaming the Obama administration for selling the old building in the city for "peanuts." He criticized the move from "perhaps the best located and finest embassy," even though the relocation was initiated under George W. Bush's administration in 2008 and followed security concerns in the aftermath of terror attacks such as the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. His decision was greeted with relief by London's Mayor Sadiq Khan who said Trump had "finally got the message" that he was not welcome in the capital.”
The Washington Post reports on what happened behind the scenes after Trump’s confounding FISA tweet yesterday morning. “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) spent 30 minutes on the phone with the president explaining the differences between domestic and foreign surveillance, as many fellow Republicans reacted in disbelief and befuddlement. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly also directly intervened with Trump, reiterating the program’s importance before traveling to the Capitol, where he parried questions from confused lawmakers.”
And the New York Times has the latest on the House FISA vote and what comes next.
Trump has his first official physical exam today.
Via Kristen Welker: Steve Bannon will testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week.
OFF TO THE RACES: McSally officially enters Arizona Senate race
In a new NPR/Marist poll: “In a head-to-head matchup with President Trump, Winfrey would win 50 to 39 percent, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. But when asked if they want Winfrey to run for president, a majority (54 percent) said they don't want her to do so, with 35 percent saying they do want her to run.”
AZ-SEN: Martha McSally is officially in, and she’s telling the national GOP to “grow a pair of ovaries.” More, from the AP: “McSally, a two-term congresswoman already backed by many GOP leaders in Arizona and Washington, described herself as anything but an establishment candidate in a fiery announcement video that touched on border security and Sharia law and featured Trump himself. ‘Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” McSally charged in in the video. “I’m a fighter pilot and I talk like one.’”
The Arizona Republic traces McSally’s ambitions to last summer.
MO-GOV: The top prosecutor in St. Louis has launched an investigation into Gov. Eric Greitens amid affair and blackmail allegations.
OH-GOV: Nan Whaley is out of the governor’s race.
OH-SEN: The Columbus Dispatch notes just how nasty a Renacci-Brown Senate race will be.
Meanwhile, Renacci appeared to DEFEND Trump’s “shithole” comment in an interview on Fox News this morning, per MSNBC’s Shirley Zilberstein.
ANCHOR: President’s comments yesterday bother you, frustrated? He lamented about the immigration program that was in front of him, says, “why are we taking so many people from these “s-hole* countries”, what is your reaction to that?RENACCI: Well look, I’ve said all along, the president many times says what people are thinking. I learned as a business guy you have to be careful what you say because people pick everything up, believe me, when I have a mic on I have got to watch what I say. That is a business guy going into a political career. It’s difficult, I know it’s difficult for the president, because many times you want to say what you are thinking, but in the end, I know a lot of times he is saying what people are thinking.
PA-18: POLITICO: “After a humiliating loss in the Alabama Senate race last month, the administration is drawing up ambitious plans that will kick off next Thursday when Trump travels to the conservative district to appear with Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Vice President Mike Pence and an assortment of Cabinet officials are also expected to make trips; Pence may go twice ahead of the March 13 special election, two administration officials said.”