FROM Julie Bykowicz
Lofty new rhetoric for a familiar message The President who's picked so many fights with so many people told Congress last night it's time for a change. "The time for trivial fights is behind us… Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope. Our citizens deserve this, and so much more – so why not join forces to finally get it done and get it done right?" Even some "Never Trump" hold -outs were impressed — but the bar was low for supporters who only hoped their President would act "presidential." The consensus is that he did, but without explaining how ambitious plans can be paid for or how to resolve conflicts with his own Republican Party in Congress. Has "Teleprompter Trump" replaced "Twitter Trump" for the long term — or just for a one-night stand?
Does the President-elect want a divided White House? CNN reports that Donald Trump was surprised to learn he'll have to appoint an entirely new White House staff. There's passionate conflict over his choice of two top leaders. Where Trump sees unity, others see confusion and a recipe for continued internal conflict. Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus is deeply tied to the Republican establishment. Chief Strategist Steve Bannon wants to shake it to its foundations. GOP critics — as well as Democrats -- are alarmed by Bannon's exploitation of misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism as head of Breitbart — the online "Alt-Right" news site. In the meantime, is Trump compromising on his "beautiful wall?"
A presidential campaign as a personal investment When he was a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination some years ago, billionaire Steve Forbes carefully separated his personal businesses from his campaign. As New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg followed the same practice. Donald Trump is doing what no rich White House contender has done before: freely and openly mixing business and politics. When he first announced, Trump boasted that he could make money running for president -- and he's making good on his promise. Trump's campaign has bought travel on his plane, rented his facilities, bought his steaks and paid his personal staff — all for more than $8 million. Nobody says that's illegal, but the Trump Foundation may have violated civil law by using other peoples' donations to finance Trump's personal lifestyle. We compare Trump's campaign to those of past billionaire candidates — and hear about potential conflicts of interest if he takes charge of federal policies.
NRA Meeting Gets Underway amid Public Backlash As its convention opened today in Houston, the National Rifle Association was celebrating the defeat of background checks in the Senate. But gun control advocates say it's not over yet. Today's Houston Chronicle published an op-ed piece by former astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife, Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while she was a member of Congress. He accused the NRA's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, of exploiting people's fears for gun-industry profits. Julie Bykowicz, national political reporter for Bloomberg News , is in Houston for the NRA convention .
Virginia Tech Shooter Had History of Mental Illness We're learning more by the hour about Monday's tragic shooting at Virginia Tech . Today, Police Chief Wendell Flinchum discussed a 2005 incident in police interceded after a female student contact them over the behavior of Cho Seung-Hui. Despite her decision not to press charges, police referred the case to the university disciplinary system. Julie Bykowicz is following the story for the Baltimore Sun .
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Rhetoric and brinksmanship on the Korean Peninsula For 25 years, the US has viewed North Korea's nuclear program with increasing alarm. Now President Trump says this country has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what he's actually doing… and what might come next.
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.