Balance of Power: The Trump InterviewBy and
In an interview with Bloomberg News Monday, President Donald Trump needed just 30 minutes to challenge some of the Republican Party's most-cherished beliefs: low taxes, a strong military and faith in the wisdom of Wall Street.
Trump's refusal to bow to GOP orthodoxy helped him win the White House. But his mix-and-match philosophy belongs to a party of one -- Trump himself -- and the interview demonstrated why he seems stalled as the Republicans shows signs of trying to move forward without him.
Trump told Bloomberg's Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs that he'd be "honored" to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un if the conditions were right. He talked up a possible gasoline tax for road improvements. He said his team is even studying whether to break up the big banks. Each idea, in its way, is heresy to Republicans.
Trump seems unfazed by such criticism and clearly hopes he can lead the parade in Washington through sheer force of will. But if he turns around, he'll find few in his party falling in behind him -- his idea of possibly meeting Kim drew withering fire, for instance. It could mean a lonely road for an unorthodox leader in the second 100 days and beyond.
Click here for a full transcript of the Trump interview.
Trump's meeting with Kim may be a long way off | North Korea's state media said the U.S. was “seriously mistaken” if it thought the regime would compromise -- though it's unclear if that was in response to Trump's remarks on potential talks. South Korea dismissed an immediate meeting, joining press secretary Sean Spicer in saying discussions are only possible if Kim gives up his nuclear weapons. China, which has championed dialogue as a solution, merely noted "positive signals" from the U.S.
Duterte might be too busy to meet Trump | The U.S. president praised his “very popular” Philippine counterpart in the Bloomberg interview, despite criticism for inviting him to the White House last week. Still, Duterte isn't sure he has time to meet the most powerful man in the world. “I’m tied up,” he told reporters yesterday. “I cannot make any definite promise. I’m supposed to go to Russia, I’m also supposed to go to Israel.”
Bannon's not going anywhere | Trump also dispelled more than a month of speculation that his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, would be getting the boot. Calling him “a very decent guy,” Trump suggested an imminent shakeup of his inner circle is unlikely. The president said Bannon and his son-in-law Jared Kushner had repaired their relationship after he told everyone to “get your acts together.”
Venezuelan power grab | The country's crisis deepened yesterday after President Nicolas Maduro called for a new constitution following more anti-government protests that have claimed about 30 lives over the past month. The opposition decried the move as an illegal power grab and said the country is slipping further into “Cuban-style” authoritarian rule.
Putin's German voters | The Russian leader has found a way to undermine Chancellor Angela Merkel as she runs for re-election this fall: Germany's 2.5 million Russian-speaking voters. The emigrants used to be strong Merkel backers but -- with the help of Kremlin-controlled television -- are increasingly turning to the right-wing populist AfD party. Putin and Merkel meet in Sochi, Russia, today to discuss Syria and Ukraine, among other issues.
Divided France | The first round of the presidential election exposed a fault line. While Marine Le Pen won the post-industrial north and the conservative south, her rival, Emmanuel Macron, has a lock on big cities and the west, John Follain reports today. The winner of Sunday's runoff will have two very different electorates to address if they are to make a success of the next presidency, and one group isn't going to be happy.
And finally... Vladimir Putin will discuss allegations he interfered in the U.S. election with controversial director Oliver Stone in a documentary to be aired next month on Showtime. Stone got unparalleled access to the Russian leader for the project, which will be broadcast over four nights starting June 12. In one sequence, Putin and Stone watch the Cold War classic “Dr. Strangelove” together, according to Showtime.