John T. Bennett

State of the Union: An impeached president goes before his accusers
Donald Trump first impeached president to run for reelection

President Donald Trump will kick his reelection campaign into high gear Tuesday in perhaps the most awkward of places: Inside the Democratic-controlled House, where he became only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

The 45th chief executive formally launched his bid for a second term last summer with a rally in Florida. But his fourth address to a joint session of Congress — and third State of the Union — will put him face-to-face with the House Democratic caucus that rebuked him, guaranteeing a made-for-television clash that seems a fitting Season 4 premiere for a presidency that continues to operate stunningly like a reality television show.

Top Trump aide stops short of echoing boss’ claim that economy is ‘best it’s ever been’
But Lawrence Kudlow touts wage growth and low unemployment rate

Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser on Friday stopped short of endorsing the president’s repeated claim that the U.S. economy is at its strongest point in the country’s history.

“In history? I think it’ll rank up there, yes,” Lawrence Kudlow told CQ Roll Call on Friday. But he notably did not say the U.S. economy is the strongest it’s ever been as his boss heads into what pollsters and strategists in both parties say could be a photo-finish election.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

‘Eliminated’ Soleimani and ‘booming’ economy: Takeaways from Trump’s first 2020 rally
President alleges ‘Crazy Bernie’ condemned U.S. military strike on Soleimani

ANALYSIS — “Hello, Toledo,” President Donald Trump told an arena full of supporters Thursday night as he made clear he believes the Buckeye State is now solidly GOP territory.

“We love Toledo, you remember, I was here a lot,” Trump said at the top of another raucous campaign rally. “You remember 2016 — what a year that was, right?”

Pompeo walks back comments that appeared to contradict Trump on embassy attacks
After Trump told rally about multiple embassies targeted, secretary of State says targets weren’t known

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried Friday to clean up comments from the night before  that appeared to contradict President Trump’s claim that the Iranian general he had killed was targeting multiple U.S. embassies.

Pompeo told reporters U.S. officials acted on “specific information on an imminent threat,” and that the “threat stream included attacks on U.S. embassies. … Full stop.”

Trump suggests Iran downed Ukrainian airliner, potentially by accident
U.S. officials haven't publicly stated what caused the crash yet

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner earlier this week — possibly by mistake.

“Well, I have my suspicions,” he told reporters following an energy event in the White House. “It’s a tragic thing. … Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. … It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.

Democrats wanted an Iran strategy. Trump offered disjointed goals instead
POTUS said he didn’t want to use U.S. military while also threatening Tehran over nuclear program

ANALYSIS — Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates wanted President Donald Trump to explain his Iran strategy Wednesday. What they got was a hodgepodge of policy whims and a few unexpected twists as the drums of war faded. 

On the one hand, the commander in chief told the world he had no interest in using the U.S. military. But on the other, he all but threatened to use America’s combat arsenal to take out Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure if the government there ramps up its atomic program.

Trump Iran address comes as congressional plans on War Powers in flux
Trump threatens more sanctions against Iran as he makes move to deescalate tensions

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled a cooling of tensions with Tehran after it struck U.S. military targets inside Iraq, saying in a national address that “Iran appears to be standing down.”

He called that “a good thing for all parties concerned and for the world.”

U.S. military won’t leave Iraq anytime soon, Trump says amid tensions
Biden: Iran standoff shows president’s foreign policy ‘incompetence’ is ‘beyond dispute’

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will not order the withdrawal of all American military forces from Iraq despite calls from officials there to expel U.S. troops following the White House’s killing of a top Iranian figure outside Baghdad’s airport.

“At some point we want to get out but this isn’t the right point,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office days after Iraq’s parliament voted to force him to get American troops off its soil. “It’s the worst thing that could happen to Iraq.”

Facing political risks, Trump tries casting Iranian Quds leader as ‘terrorist ringleader’
Sen. Bernie Sanders: President ‘listened to right-wing extremists’ over national security advisers

President Donald Trump spent Friday defending an operation he ordered that killed a top Iranian military commander as his political foes pounced and polling data suggested he took a major political risk.

Trump and top Iranian leaders were in a volatile and potentially deadly standoff Friday afternoon, with the president sending nearly 4,000 additional American troops to the region and Tehran promising harsh revenge for a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, who had led the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iranian military leader was plotting ‘imminent’ and ‘sinister’ attack on U.S. interests, Trump says
‘But we caught him in the act,’ the president said 1 day after the killing of Soleimani in Iraq

President Donald Trump on Friday defended his attack that killed a top Iranian military commander, saying Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was plotting an “imminent” and “sinister” attack on American interests.

The U.S. commander in chief said in a statement from his South Florida resort that the attack Soleimani was allegedly planning would have put American military personnel in the region at risk. “But we caught him in the act,” Trump said minutes before he was scheduled to leave for a political event with evangelical supporters in Miami.

Iranian Quds commander’s assassination to follow Trump back to Washington
Democrats, allies calling for deescalation of tension with Iran while other tensions await at White House

ANALYSIS — There are two things White House and Trump campaign officials have not wanted to discuss when it comes to President Donald Trump’s reelection chances: An economic recession and a military conflict. Suddenly, the latter is possible.

The president’s top aides have acknowledged an economic slowdown would undermine the president’s top claim that he’s earned a second term. That’s because he leads almost every public event — no matter the topic — by touting the low unemployment and record-high stock market levels.

Mar-a-Limbo: With Senate trial on hold, Trump faces uncertainty during Florida vacation
Despite likely acquittal, presidential scholars see an executive office likely changed forever

Trump punches back at ‘far left’ mainstream Christian publication after editorial
Trump says Christianity Today ‘would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns‘

President Donald Trump, always looking to fight back when he feels attacked, on Friday panned Christianity Today after the religious publication called for him to be removed from office.

“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral,” the publication wrote in an editorial published Thursday.

Trump announces Jeff Van Drew will become a Republican
Van Drew, as a Democrat, voted against impeaching the president Wednesday night

President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew is, as expected, switching parties. 

“Jeff will be joining the Republican Party,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, with the freshman congressman by his side.

Essay: For White House press pool on Trump’s impeachment day, the silence was deafening
President appeared to understand there are some historical events not even he can counter-program

ESSAY | The silence was deafening. Certainly not what I expected as the White House in-town pool reporter on the day President Donald Trump was impeached. 

Trump, famous for his feisty interactions with the press as a New York businessman and who flashed his penchant for drama as a reality television host, has transformed presidential communications.

Minutes after being impeached, Trump says House Dems earned ‘eternal mark of shame’
45th president joins Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as only impeached chief executives

House Democrats will forever wear an “eternal mark of shame” for impeaching him on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, President Donald Trump said Wednesday evening.

“Democrat lawmakers don’t believe you have the right to elect your own president,” Trump said to boos during a rowdy campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. “Crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame.

Officially impeached, Trump must learn to live with ‘black mark’ on his presidency
‘He sold himself as ... someone who operates differently. … They just accept it,’ expert says

Three things to watch as Trump reacts to his impeachment
Spokeswoman said president was working rather than watching TV. Then came his tweet

ANALYSIS — In so many ways, the likely split screen Wednesday evening of the House voting to impeach President Donald Trump as he is on stage at a campaign rally is fitting.

In fact, there will be a certain poetry as the two events coincide — no, collide — in real-time. A special prime time edition of what so often over the last three years has felt like a dramatic made-for-television presidency that has been referred to in this space and others as “The Trump Show.”

Trump letter tees off on Pelosi, even as public statements more restrained
President accuses Democrats of offenses he has been accused of

President Donald Trump on Tuesday shrugged off an expected Wednesday House vote to impeach him, saying he is ready for a Senate trial that all but certainly will acquit him — even as he teed off on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I’m not watching,” Trump said in a pool spray of the ongoing House process, which Tuesday centered on a Rules Committee hearing to set up the floor process under which two articles of impeachment will be considered on the floor Wednesday. “I haven’t seen it. … We look forward to getting onto the Senate.”