Did you take your eye off Donald Trump for one second this week only to find that when you looked back he seemed to be espousing policies you’d always thought he opposed? Are you confused about whether the US president plans to attack North Korea or has in fact realized he has more in common than you’d think with a capricious leader palpably unsuited for the task before him who inherited everything he has from his formidable father?
If so, we’re here to help. Here’s what you missed in Trumpworld this week …
Trump went to ground at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which he is predicted to start treating as his bolthole while his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida is closed for the summer. Meanwhile, senators began to grapple with the controversial healthcare bill repealing Obamacare finally passed by the House the day before. They are likely to substantially moderate the content of the bill, which analysts believe in its present form analysts would deprive millions of Americans of health insurance and gut coverage for those with preexisting medical conditions.
Trump celebrated that victory for the Republicans with a speech on board an aircraft carrier in New York, as protesters gathered in the surrounding streets to mark the president’s return to his home town for the first time since taking office. He had kept Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull waiting while he crowed about the bill finally passing with key GOP figures in the White House Rose Garden. “Hey, I’m president! I’m president! Can you believe it?” he asked them.
FBI chief James Comey defended his decision to keep secret an investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Moscow despite revealing details of an inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails. “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election,” Comey told a Senate committee. “But honestly, I wouldn’t change the decision.” Trump himself was appearing at the White House alongside Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and reassured those present that achieving a Middle East peace deal was “frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years”. Trump will stop off in Israel on his first trip abroad later this month.
The president had a “very good” conversation about a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian civil war with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, their first known phone discussion since last month’s US missile strikes against a Syrian government airbase soured relations. The seemingly convivial call was the latest indication of Trump’s respect for authoritarian strongmen, following praise for Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, congratulations to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey for his controversial referendum win, a description of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as a “pretty smart cookie” he would be “honored” to meet and an invitation to the White House for Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines (who replied that he was “tied up”). Trump also wondered aloud why the civil war had started and why it couldn’t have just been worked out and claimed that Andrew Jackson “was really angry” about the conflict, which began 16 years after he died. The president’s key adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump also released a new book of business advice for women, with tips including work in the evening once you get home and keep up with what’s happening in the office while you’re on maternity leave.
The Republicans and Democrats came to a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown, which to the untrained eye appeared to give Trump none of the things he had been publicly badgering them about on Twitter – including money for his key campaign promise of a border wall with Mexico.
Trump greeted his 100th day in office with a barrage of media interviews, including one in which he lamented the constitutional checks and balances built in to the US political system. “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country,” the president said. During a campaign-style speech in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, he retreated to his comfort zone of attacking the “fake news” media, especially those gathered in Washington at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which the president had proudly boycotted. Elsewhere in Washington, thousands gathered to protest against his environmental policies.