The Note: The First Presidential Press Conference

Day No. 8

THE BIG STORY: It’s impossible to overstate the series of explosions President Trump has set off across the world stage – without anything (a major terror attack, a provocation, even a Tweetstorm from a foreign leader) actually really happening. The Mexican president’s decision to cancel his visit is only the most dramatic step in a world-spanning whirlwind that has reset policies and shaken alliances from China to Israel to Russia. Trump’s first in-person meeting with a fellow world leader, with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington Friday, comes as even the special relationship is tested. Trump’s comments on torture are blocking out other issues, and are complicating quiet partnerships on intelligence and military matters. It all part of the major gamble of the Trump era – that the norms of governance can withstand (and just may demand) being blown up in areas both foreign and domestic.

THE SLEEPER STORY: “The media here is the opposition party.” Those are the stark and stunning words of Steve Bannon, the president’s chief White House strategist, to The New York Times, in his first interview from the inside. That this would represent the official White House strategy is startling, even if it is in keeping with Bannon’s worldview. (It’s hard to imagine that Trump, who consumes and thrives off of television and Twitter, has the same outlook.) The words are Bannon’s, and Trump’s actions surely speak louder. Yet this appears to be part of a concerted effort to create an alternative information universe. This first wild week that gave us “alternative facts” and presidential arguments where he’s falsely described his crowd sizes and the popular vote. Bannon’s advice for the media? “Keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

THE SHINY STORY: Imagine being the head of the National Park Service and getting a call from the president of the United States, less than 24 hours into the new presidency. A thank-you for the welcome on the National Mall? A warning about budget cuts? A vow to visit Yosemite? Actually, according to The Washington Post, the call was a demand to produce photographs from Inauguration Day that Trump hoped would bolster his assertion about how many people witnessed the event. Dial up the outrage, sure, but don’t be at all surprised: This is how Trump does business. It’s just that his business is now the federal government’s business.

TLDR; U.S. relations with Mexico are at a standstill after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a meeting with President Trump ahead of Trump's meeting with another foreign partner -- British Prime Minister Theresa May slated for today.

--THIS MORNING'S TRUMP TWEETS:8:19 AM: Look forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal. We must do better! 8:12 AM: Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!


--TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Donald Trump is sitting for his official portrait this morning in the Oval Office and meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Early this afternoon, President Trump holds a meeting, lunch and press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom. Late this afternoon, President Trump will attend the swearing-in of Secretary of Defence James Mattis. He'll sign executive orders later tonight.

--TRUMP AND PUTIN TO SPEAK BY PHONE ON SATURDAY: President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a telephone conversation this weekend, according to both a senior administration official and the Kremlin. The call will take place on Saturday, both the U.S. official and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Friday, ABC's DAVID CAPLAN reports.

--VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE TO ADDRESS MARCH FOR LIFE: Vice President Mike Pence will address thousands of pro-life advocates Friday at the annual March for Life.“Honored to meet with pro-life leaders tonight,” Pence tweeted. “I look forward to addressing National [March for Life] on Friday." ABC's JENNIFER HANSLER has more:



Just seven days after Trump took office, the world is already shifting in reaction to the new President's tenure on the world stage:

ISRAEL has approved announced plans to build almost 600 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem on Sunday, then on Tuesday approved 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank, ones that had been frozen under pressure from Obama. “We're building and we'll continue to build,” Netanyahu tweeted. “The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president,” Jerusalem's deputy mayor said.

CHINA has warned the Trump administration not to meddle in the South China Sea, state-run media warning it could lead to a war. And with Trump suggesting the ‘One China Policy’ is negotiable, China has sent warnings including provocatively sending its aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait earlier this year.

MEXICO’s president canceled a meeting with Trump. America’s neighbor, one of its biggest trading partners, is reeling. Meanwhile, Trump has already began laying the groundwork for starting the border wall. What happens next will have a profound impact on both economies.

RUSSIA remains the one country Trump has yet to criticize. Trump could strike that grand bargain with Putin, but at what cost?

NATO is on notice. Trump has declared it obsolete and America’s longtime allies now openly question if Trump will defend them from a resurgent Russia. In the Baltics they are taking matters into their own hands, with militias training to fend off a Russian invasion. Even German leaders are openly questioning whether the world order we knew is over.

NORTH KOREA has warned it could launch an ICBM for the first time, theoretically capable of hitting the West Coast, any day now. If it does, how will Trump respond?

BRITAIN is clinging to the notion of a ‘special relationship’ and is in dire need of a trade deal soon after Brexit, but that effort is being strained as PM Theresa May is forced to distance herself from Trump’s comments on torture.

SYRIA peace negotiations began this week, brokered by Russia and Turkey, but the Trump administration has so far shown no interest in having a seat at the table.

ASIA is nervous after Trump killed the TPP trade deal. It’s not just about the trade, but ceding ground to China which has aggressively pushed its own trade deals in the region.

JAPAN is particularly wary and Japan’s PM will visit Washington in a couple weeks.

EUROPE has seen a resurgence of right-wing populist nationalism and leaders in Trump’s mold from France to Germany to Holland, energized by Trump’s victory, are poised to emulate him in elections this year.

CANADA has appointed a new Foreign Minister with trade experience in anticipation of a renegotiation of NAFTA.


PRESIDENT TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS ON IMMIGRATION EXPLAINED. President Donald Trump signed two executive orders Wednesday that call for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and aim to deny federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS and SERENA MARSHALL explain. The actions could have broad implications for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and set up a potential showdown between the federal government and cities that resist the enforcement of some federal immigration laws. Here’s what the orders mean:

GOP PLOTS NEXT 200 DAYS AT RETREAT BUT TRUMP HAS HIS OWN IDEAS. The congressional Republican retreat began as many events organized by House Speaker Paul Ryan do: with a detailed chart. The ambitious 200-day agenda included goals related to an Affordable Care Act replacement, tax code reform, Obama-era regulatory rollback and, at the request of President Donald Trump, an infrastructure package, reports ABC's ALI ROGIN. But if Ryan and McConnell brought a blueprint to their annual retreat, President Donald Trump’s tweets and proclamations leading up to his speech here, on issues like voter fraud and big-city violence, appeared akin to taking a giant red Sharpie and scribbling all over it.

PHILADELPHIA MAYOR SLAMS TRUMP'S 'FALSE CLAIMS' OVR MURDER RATE. Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney didn't take too kindly to Donald Trump's claim Thursday that the City of Brotherly Love's murder rate is increasing. "President Trump's false statements today were an insult to the men and women of the Philadelphia police force -- the very same men and women who are working long hours today to ensure his safety," Kenney said in a statement Thursday, following remarks the president made at the annual GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia. ABC's DAVID CAPLAN has more.

MEXICAN PRESIDENT CANCELS MEETING WITH TRUMP AFTER BORDER WALL ORDER. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Twitter Thursday that he canceled a scheduled meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, just one day after Trump signed an executive order calling for the launch of plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "This morning we informed the White House I will not attend the business meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with @POTUS," he tweeted in Spanish. Peña Nieto was under intense domestic pressure to cancel after Trump announced the wall policy Wednesday, report ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY, BENJAMIN SIEGEL and KIRIT RADIA.

TRUMP CLAIMS HE 'AGREED' TO CANCEL MEETING WITH MEXICAN PRESIDENT NEXT WEEK. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto "agreed" to cancel their planned meeting in the U.S. next week, after the Mexican leader announced earlier this morning that he would not be making the trip, writes ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL. EXECUTIVE ORDER MAY NOT BE ENOUGH FOR TRUMP TO BUILD BORDER WALL. One of President Trump’s leading campaign promises was to build “a wall” along the southern border of the United States and he started the process Wednesday during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security. The president also claimed that U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to start the construction of the wall after negotiations between the United States and Mexico begin "relatively soon." But still at issue is whether Trump’s executive authority is enough to move the proposed project forward. ABC’s SERENA MARSHALL and BENJAMIN SIEGEL note some key questions to consider:

NO, REPUBLICANS DIDN'T TAKE BRIBES FROM HILLARY CLINTON TO SABOTAGE DONALD TRUMP. A fake news article headlined "JUST IN: 6 REPUBLICANS TOOK SECRET PAYMENTS FROM CLINTON TO DESTROY TRUMP" has been all over Facebook during the last several weeks, spreading misinformation on a conspiracy between former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and several high-ranking Republicans -- a conspiracy that never actually happened. ABC’s RYAN STRUYK dug into the claims:

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SANCTUARY CITIES. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday singling out the country’s sanctuary cities in an attempt to curtail what he has called “virtually unlimited immigration.” “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” reads the order. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.” ABC’s ADAM KELSEY writes everything you need to know about sanctuary cities:

IRANIAN ACTRESS TO BOYCOTT OSCARS OVER TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION STANCE. Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of best foreign language film nominee "The Salesman," has announced that she will be boycotting the Oscars over President Trump's expected restrictions on immigration to the United States. "Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist," Alidoosti tweeted earlier today. "Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won't attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest." ABC’s LUCHINA FISHER has more:


@joshbhaskell: How did GOP congressional leaders react to @POTUS interview with @DavidMuir ? Live report w/ @maryaliceparks @benyc

@rickklein: can you imagine if this was open press? "THE PRESIDENT participates in his Official Portrait Sitting"

@jdawsey1: Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News this morning that removing sanctions on Russia is under consideration.

@kelseylh: Scoop from @pauldemko: WH pulling all ACA outreach/ads, even stuff already booked and paid for.

@sahilkapur: .@KellyannePolls on CBS re: wall funding: "one possibility" is to tax imports from Mexico anywhere between 5% to 20%.