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The Trump Tweet Tracker

Monitoring the president-elect’s statements on Twitter—and analyzing what they mean

Spencer Platt / Getty / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly issued announcements and proposals over Twitter, during both the presidential election and the transition period, embracing the medium as a superior means of communicating with the American people compared to relying on traditional media organizations.

Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has promised that Trump’s tweets will continue: “He has this direct pipeline to the American people, where he can talk back and forth,” Spicer recently explained to WPRI TV in Providence, Rhode Island, adding that Twitter allows him to “put his thoughts out and hear what they’re thinking in a way that no one’s ever been able to do before.”

We’ll track and unpack Trump’s tweets here, according to our best understanding of their significance.

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Trump Targets 'Biased' NBC for Questioning His Jobs-Creation Claims


The Prompt

NBC’s Today show aired a segment Wednesday morning that appeared to question whether President-elect Donald Trump has really created the jobs he’s claimed since his election in November. In it, Ari Melber, MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, said companies he’s heard from maintain Trump’s impact on job creation is “very small or non-existent.” Companies, Melber said, make decisions about jobs after deliberating for “months if not years. … [The decisions] are not responses to a couple of days of internet attention.”

The Context

Trump’s campaign pledge, “Make America Great Again,” is predicated on bringing jobs back to the U.S.—or at least keeping them here. He’s used his bully pulpit, Twitter, to target companies that had planned to move jobs to Mexico and other places—and threatened to impose import taxes on finished goods that are brought back to the U.S. And Trump has claimed results: He’s said the CEOs of companies such as Carrier, Ford, GM, and others have changed their minds about moving jobs overseas, and, indeed, are creating thousands of jobs in the U.S. after either meeting with him or under pressure from him.

The Response

Trump found a news report he didn’t like, labeled it “FAKE NEWS,” and accused the network that ran it of bias. Although it is true that companies have announced they are keeping jobs in the U.S., it’s also true that some of the jobs that are being touted were in the works for a long time. Having said that, Ford’s CEO Mark Fields told NPR Trump’s tweets against the company, as well as his stated economic policies, did have an effect.

“I can't give you an exact percentage, but clearly it was a factor,” he said. “We have a president-elect who said very clearly he wants to create a more positive business environment for manufacturing here in the U.S., wants to create pro-growth policies, whether it's through tax reform or regulatory reform and those things matter.”

CEOs who are seeking to avoid Trump’s tweets, which have caused temporary drops in the value of several stocks, are unlikely to want to contradict the president-elect’s claims. And indeed it’s in their interest to make it seem Trump was responsible for their decisions. For example, Trump, in his broadside against NBC, also cited a Wall Street Journal report about Bayer’s announcement it would create U.S. jobs after meeting the president-elect. But that, as Nick Timiraos, the paper’s national economics correspondent, pointed out on Twitter, comes as the German chemical giant seeks regulatory approval for a merger with Monsanto, the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant. He added:

Trump Says Polls That Show Low Approval Ratings Are 'Rigged'


Several recent polls suggest Donald Trump will enter the White House with the lowest approval rating in four decades of any president-elect. The most recent of those, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday, said 40 percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Trump while 54 percent held an unfavorable view of him. Also, 44 percent of Americans say they believe he is qualified to serve as president; 52 percent say he is not. Still, a majority of survey respondents said they were optimistic Trump will fulfill his campaign pledges on the economy and terrorism. More on the poll, including methodology here.


The Context

The Post/ABC national poll of 1,005 adults had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, and its results roughly line up with the percentage of votes Trump received nationwide (46.1 percent) in the election against Hillary Clinton (48.2 percent), as well as many pre-election national polls. Trump’s support is mostly divided along party lines: More than eight in 10 Republicans say he is qualified to be president, the Post/ABC poll says; about the same percentage of Democrats say he isn’t qualifies. Self-identified independents are split. His comments during the presidential transition, his initial dismissal of intelligence assessments about Russian interference in the U.S. election, and his tweets disparaging his rivals and perceived enemies have been met unfavorably by the public, according to several polls. Still, there’s some good news, the Post says in its assessment of the poll. The 52 percent of those surveyed who say Trump isn’t qualified to be president is the lowest since he declared his presidential run.

The Response

Trump has long been critical of polls—and he has a point. No one, let alone pollsters, gave him a chance to beat better-known and better-funded candidates in the Republican presidential primary, nor did they give him a change against Clinton in the general election. But while some of those polls were flawed—though it’s worth pointing out they did correctly show Clinton winning the popular vote—there’s little evidence to support his claim they were “rigged.” Indeed, Nate Silver, the pundit behind fivethirtyeight.com, responded to Trump’s claim:






Trump on Brennan: 'Was This the Leaker of Fake News?'

The Prompt

On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan offered Fox News Sunday an uncharacteristically blunt interview. He warned that President-elect Donald Trump lacks “a full understanding” of the threat Russia poses; said he took “great umbrage” at “equating intelligence community with Nazi Germany”; and scolded that “there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for ‘leaking’ information that was already available publicly.”

The Context

Brennan spent a quarter-century rising through the ranks of the agency he now leads, including holding senior posts during the Bush administration. His appointment by Obama as CIA director raised hackles among civil libertarians of both parties, angered by his apparent support for Bush-era policies including torture, and his role in the current administration’s drone-strike program. His record in public office is less that of a political partisan, than of a loyal, institutional defender—for better and for worse—of the agency to which he has devoted much of his life.

Trump’s response to his comments is difficult to parse. He lists a variety of fronts on which Russia has acted aggressively in recent years. Is it a suggestion that the CIA failed to foresee and forestall these moves? Perhaps more likely, an argument that the administration’s dour view of Russia has produced a situation that couldn’t be much worse, and so it’s time to try a different approach? That would jibe with an interview published by The Times of London on Sunday, in which he floated the idea of dropping sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea, in exchange for reductions of nuclear arms.

Trump closed with a remarkable, and wholly unsubstantiated, accusation—suggesting that the director of the CIA was the man who leaked the unverified Trump dossier to BuzzFeed News.

The Response

It’s been widely reported that newsrooms around D.C. have been in possession of much of the dossier’s contents for months, and that its author, Christopher Steele, was desperately trying to call attention to what he believed he'd found. Mother Jones published a story based on his claims before the election. There’s no real mystery as to where the dossier came from. The notion that Brennan played any role as “the leaker of Fake News” is baffling.

But Trump’s latest broadside seems likely to intensify escalating tensions between Trump and the intelligence agencies he’ll shortly inherit. If Brennan thought that going on television and publicly warning the president-elect was an effective means of defending his agency from Trump’s attacks, he seems to have been mistaken.

Trump Worries About 'Burning' Cities as Fires Hit Historic Lows

The Prompt

After Lewis told Meet the Press that he didn’t see Trump “as a legitimate president,” Trump took to Twitter to attack the civil-rights icon on Saturday morning. And then, on Saturday night, he signed back in to take another shot.

The Context

Trump has spent the last year warning that “crime is out of control,” and painting inner-cities as dark dystopias. As my colleague David Graham has written, though, crime remains near historic lows, even if rates have ticked up for the past two years. Public perceptions, however, are a different story entirely. A majority of Americans report “a great deal” of concern about crime; during the decades of steady decline, most remained convinced it was rising.

Nothing drives home the anachronism of Trump’s critique like his reference to “burning … inner cities.” That may have been a problem in the 1970s, when the Bronx burned, but it’s not today. Since 1981, calls for fires in the United States are down by 50 percent. Big city fire departments today are more likely to worry about a dearth of major fires leaving younger firefighters short on experience than having too many fires to fight. And urban fires aren’t a good measure of social dysfunction, anyway. A recent study found that rates of residential fires in major cities are correlated with the age of the housing stock and its vacancy rate, and not with the socioeconomic status of their residents.

The Response

As my colleague Matt Ford noted earlier today when the tweets began, it’s remarkable to see a president-elect attack John Lewis on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

And, of course, it’s not clear that Trump believes what he’s tweeting. He lives in America’s largest city; he built his fortune developing properties in it, and then by licensing his name to developments in other cities; and he ended the night by inviting his followers to join him in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration, which is—and this is true—also a city. If they take him up on the invitation, they’re unlikely to find smoke, but should have plenty of half-smokes.

Trump Says Civil-Rights Icon John Lewis Is 'All Talk, Talk, Talk'

The Prompt

Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, told NBC’s Meet the Press Friday that he doesn’t believe President-elect Donald Trump will be a legitimate president when he takes office on January 20. “I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said in the interview. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.” Lewis, a widely respected leader of the civil-rights movement and the last living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, also said he will not attend the inauguration ceremonies for the first time since he joined Congress in 1987.

The Context

Lewis is part of a growing chorus of outrage from congressional Democrats amid growing reports of Russian interference in the November presidential election. Like Lewis, many of them have cited Russia’s maneuvers as a crucial factor in Trump’s surprise victory over Clinton. During a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Friday, Democratic legislators reportedly erupted at FBI Director James Comey for his silence about the bureau’s investigations into Trump’s ties with Russia, drawing comparisons to the infamous letter about Clinton’s private email server he sent shortly before Election Day.

The Response

Trump’s reaction to Lewis’s comments makes two assertions, neither of which are true. Georgia’s fifth congressional district, which Lewis represents, cuts through central Atlanta. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it includes “the bulk” of Georgia’s universities and colleges and the headquarters of multiple Fortune 500 companies—hardly the crumbling dystopia depicted by Trump. Even more erroneous is Trump’s claim that Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk—no action or results.” At age 23, Lewis was among the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington; he is also the last living speaker at the event. The march spurred the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed de jure racial discrimination in public facilities throughout the United States. In 1965, Lewis focused on racial discrimination in elections and campaigned to register black voters throughout the South. He was then severely beaten by Alabama state troopers while marching across the Edmund Pettis Bridge during the Selma-to-Montgomery marches. Footage of his beating and the violence towards other peaceful demonstrators pushed President Lyndon B. Johnson to support what would become the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Through both talk and action, Lewis played a major role in transforming the United States into a more just and equal society.

Whatever Trump’s intent, his aggressive reaction to Lewis could also prompt a wider Democratic boycott of his inauguration on Friday. As of Saturday morning, Politico reported that at least a dozen Democratic lawmakers said they would skip the event, with some planning on taking part in the Women’s March on Washington to protest his presidency the following day.

Trump Promises Hacking Report in 90 Days


The Prompt

Donald Trump still seems to be annoyed about the news reports this week—based on uncorroborated information—that Russian intelligence possessed compromising information about him. He responded to it twice—on Wednesday and Thursday—on Twitter, as well as in his by now well-chronicled press conference in which he assailed news organizations and accused CNN and BuzzFeed of producing “fake news.”

The Context

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered with the U.S. election in order to favor Trump. They briefed Trump, who has been skeptical of the intelligence assessment of Russia’s role, last Friday about the intelligence on which this assessment on Russian hacking was based. This week, CNN, BuzzFeed, and others reported on a dossier that suggested Russian intelligence possessed compromising information on Trump. That dossier was put together by a former British spy who conducts opposition research for both Republicans and Democrats. (He has now gone to ground in the UK.) On Thursday, Reuters reported the former spy was initially hired by Jeb Bush, Trump’s rival in the Republican race. Russia denies any such dossier exists. Trump, whose relationship with the intelligence community has been frosty, at best, accused it Thursday of deliberately leaking the information to make him look bad. That prompted James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, to issue a statement saying he’d spoken to Trump, denied the intelligence community leaked the information, that the dossier had been floating around Congress and the media for weeks, if not months, before the intelligence community became aware of it, and that he considered the leak detrimental to the U.S. Clapper’s statement added that while the claims in the dossier were unsubstantiated, the intelligence community made no claim about their veracity.

Then came the unrelated revelation that the Justice Department’s Inspector General was opening an investigation into FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress, just days before the election, about the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Clinton has blamed that letter, in part, for her loss. The department’s inspector general said the investigation followed requests from lawmakers, groups, and members of the public.

The Response

There are two parts to Trump’s response: In the first, he seems to double down on the idea the intelligence community leaked the dossier about him to news media—despite Clapper’s emphatic denial. Once again he cites Russia as saying “nothing exists.” This illustrates Trump’s continued tendency to take Russia’s word over that of U.S. intelligence. He vowed his people will have a full report on hacking in 90 days. It’s unclear here whether Trump means his political operatives or the intelligence community that he will be soon in charge of. Once again Trump has resorted to the use of “FAKE NEWS” to describe stories he doesn’t like or agree with.

The second part of his response apparently deals with the inspector general’s investigation. Trump has blown hot and cold on Clinton. During the campaign, he vowed to investigate and jail her over the email scandal, and criticized the FBI’s assessment that there was no criminality in Clinton’s actions. Since his victory, Trump has been more gracious. Tweets like this emerge typically when questions are raised about factors that contributed to Clinton’s loss. Trump is possibly correct in pointing out that Clinton lost “because she campaigned in the wrong states.” Indeed, the intelligence community has said it has no evidence to suggest the Russian interference succeeded in changing either the vote tallies or the actual result. In other words, there may have been factors that turned voters off of Clinton, but ultimately she lost in traditional Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania and Michigan, and that’s what cost her the election.

Trump Implores His Supporters to 'Buy L.L. Bean'

The Prompt

Eschewing the company’s trendy duck boots and absurdly generous return policy, a protest group called Grab Your Wallet is encouraging consumers to boycott L.L. Bean, the 104-year-old retail brand headquartered in Maine. Not because of any specific problem with their products or policies, but because a member of the company’s board contributed to a political action committee that supported Donald Trump.

The Context

Last weekend, the Associated Press reported that Linda Bean, whose grandfather founded L.L. Bean and who currently sits on its board, is in trouble with the Federal Election Commission. A wealthy Republican donor who’s run for office herself, Bean had contributed above the legal limit to the PAC Making America Great Again. On Fox and Friends Thursday morning, Bean criticized the “hardcore bullies out on the Left Co—West Coast in California” backing the boycott. Bean told the anchors: “I never back down, if I feel I’m right.”

The Bangor Daily News in Maine has come out strongly against the boycott, citing the number of people the company employs in the state. And on Facebook, L.L. Bean released a statement explaining that it’s “disappointed” in the boycott, and that “no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that L.L. built.”

The Response

Backers of Grab Your Wallet’s campaign might double down on their commitment after Trump’s tweet, and Trump supporters may place orders of their own. But people judge Bean boots on their quality—and the company just opened an expanded production facility, expecting sales to increase from 600,000 to 700,000 pairs in the next year.

In recent weeks, the president-elect has repeatedly weighed in on the business decisions taken by individual companies, attacking some for plans to move jobs, and praising others for expanding or retaining domestic operations. This tweet raised new questions, though, because it showed Trump urging Americans to support a particular business, to reward Linda Bean for her “great support.”

More From Trump on the Russian Dossier

The Prompt

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said Wednesday in a statement he’d spoken to the president-elect and expressed his “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press,” calling them corrosive to national security. He reiterated the dossier that alleges the Russian government might have compromising information about Donald Trump—and which was published Tuesday by BuzzFeed—was written by a private security company and was not a U.S. intelligence community product. He said the document had been widely circulated among the media, U.S. lawmakers, and their staff before the intelligence community became aware of it. Clapper said he emphasized to Trump he does “not believe the leaks came from within the IC.” He added though the intelligence community hasn’t made a judgment whether the dossier is reliable, and didn’t use it for the conclusions about Russian interference in the U.S. election, “part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”

The Context

This week CNN and others published claims that Russian intelligence possessed compromising material about Trump, adding the U.S. intelligence community briefed Trump last week on this material, along with their assessment that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election—with an eye to help the Republican nominee. BuzzFeed then went onto publish the dossier detailing the information the Russians allegedly have. The source of the information—which is uncorroborated—is a now-outed former British spy who does opposition research (his clients included both Republicans and Democrats). Trump went on a Twitter tirade, first calling the information “FAKE NEWS,” then accusing the intelligence community of leaking the information in order to make him look bad, comparing the situation to “Nazi Germany.” He expanded on those remarks during his news conference Wednesday, attacking the news organizations that published them and calling the leaks “a disgrace.”

The Response

Trump’s tweet Thursday morning reiterated his outrage over the information that was leaked. It did, however, corroborate part of Clapper’s statement: that the two men spoke and denounced the leaks. Trump also called the contents of the dossier “made up, phony facts”—even though Clapper’s statement made it a point to say the intelligence community “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.” In other words, while Trump says he believes the information is fake, Clapper isn’t saying either way whether it is or not. It’s worth noting two things here: First, the contents of the dossier have not been independently corroborated. Second, Clapper’s statement, as my colleague McKay Coppins noted, verified the essentials of CNN’s report, and the BBC, which Trump sarcastically dismissed in his news conference as “another beauty,” reported Wednesday it had multiple sources for the information about Trump. Trump ended his tweet with “Too bad!” What that’s specifically referring to is unclear, but the president-elect will likely let us know soon—on Twitter.

Trump Responds to Latest Leak Allegations: 'Are We Living in Nazi Germany?'


The Prompt

On Tuesday, CNN and other news organizations reported that intelligence officials briefed the president-elect and other top officials on allegations the Russian government might have compromising information about Donald Trump.

The Context

Last Friday, U.S. intelligence officials briefed Trump on their assessment that Moscow undermined the presidential election by releasing hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee to favor the Republican nominee and harm Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. They also noted the efforts did not have an impact on the actual vote tallies in the election, and released an unclassified version of their findings. Cut to Tuesday, when CNN and others published the claim that Russian intelligence had compromising information about Trump. But as my colleague David Graham noted: “That doesn’t mean the claim that Russian agents possessed the information was necessarily true. The origin of the claim, in fact, is decidedly partisan. A major source for the report delivered to Trump was a set of memos prepared by a former British intelligence operative, who gathered the information while working as an opposition researcher for both anti-Trump Republicans and later for Democrats.” CNN and others did not publish the actual memo because its contents couldn’t be independently verified. But later Tuesday night, BuzzFeed did, saying, “Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers.” (On why that is a problem, read this by David.) Trump responded on Twitter almost immediately, calling it “FAKE NEWS.” Claims in the memo about Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, meeting Russian agents in Prague have been rejected by Cohen.  

The Response

There are a couple ways to look at Trump’s response. First, his outrage at having the legitimacy of his election victory questioned: This is understandable because Trump not only defeated more than a dozen better-financed and favored rivals in the GOP, but also came out of seemingly nowhere to defeat Clinton, who’d all but been anointed president. Having said that, when it appeared Clinton would easily win, Trump was doing much the same: sowing the seeds to dispute the legitimacy of the entire election process.

Next, Trump’s reliance on Russia’s outright rejection of the latest claims to buttress his argument: This is less understandable given Trump consistently appears to take the word of Russian officials, but not those of the intelligence community that will soon be serving him.

Trump’s response that he has “NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” is also less easy to understand given how extensively his business dealings there have been chronicled. (You can read about it here, here, here, and here.) As to his assertion that “intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” it’s not clear that intelligence agencies, in fact, leaked the memo that had been shopped around for months by political-opposition groups. And while Trump may have a point, in general, about the leak of information, intelligence agencies, especially those that believe their work isn’t being taken seriously by an administration, find a way to publicize their work, and news organizations, it appears, are more than happy to publish them—even if the claims are unverified.

Trump: Only 'Stupid' People Want Bad Relations With Russia




The Prompt

On Friday, U.S. intelligence officials briefed President-elect Donald Trump on their conclusion that the Russian government undermined the presidential election by releasing hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee to harm Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and aid in Trump’s election.

The Context

President Obama responded to the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions in December by imposing unilateral sanctions on Russian spy agencies, their leaders, and their business entities. Obama also expelled 35 Russian operatives from U.S. soil and closed two compounds owned by the Russian government in Maryland and New York. When announcing those measures, Obama also indicated the U.S. might retaliate in more clandestine ways “at a time and place of our choosing.”

The Response

Those measures received broad bipartisan support from Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, whose members have largely concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the hacking and release of Democratic emails. But it’s an open question whether Trump, who has frequently praised Putin and called for closer ties with Moscow, will uphold those sanctions when he takes office in 13 days. Saturday’s tweets suggest Trump’s Friday intelligence briefing didn’t significantly alter his view of Russia.

While the president has broad authority to impose or rescind some types of sanctions, Congress could also attempt to impose its own measures against Russia and Putin’s government through legislation. That could set up an early clash between the Trump White House as it tries to move closer to Moscow and key Republican and Democratic lawmakers who want a stronger response to Russian interference in American democracy.

Trump Blames DNC for Getting Hacked

The Prompt

Just hours after he received an intelligence briefing on the influence of Russian hacking on the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump is pushing back against the common narrative accepted by the intelligence community.

The Context

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report Friday that detailed how top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, ordered the hacking American political figures in order to influence the presidential election and help elect Trump. The CIA, FBI, and NSA all concluded that Russia was behind the cyber attacks. And while top officials for months have continued to blame Russia for the hacks, Trump has strayed from blaming the Kremlin, hoping to build a strong relationship with Moscow during his term.

The Reaction

Instead of pinning the blame on Russia, which the intelligence community agrees was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee, Trump instead put the blame on the DNC. Russia may have hacked the DNC, but the committee shouldn’t have let someone hack them, Trump basically says.

Trump Finds an Intelligence Investigation He Supports

The Prompt

The president-elect is being briefed on Friday on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind hacks against the Democratic National Committee and other targets, and their conclusion that those hacks were intended to hurt Hillary Clinton, his rival for the presidency. A public report is expected early next week. But before that briefing, NBC News reported that U.S. officials intercepted Russian officials celebrating Trump’s win. (The Washington Post actually reported this first, though for some reason Trump picked up on NBC.)

The Context

Trump has adamantly opposed to acknowledging any Russian role in the hacks, even as a strong consensus develops among intelligence officials and also members of Congress in both parties. His hesitation is in some ways understandable—he seems to believe that Russian hacking to help him would delegitimize his victory, and it would—though increasingly untenable. He has been uninterested in some intelligence briefings since winning election.

The Response

Trump’s speed in demanding an investigation is surprising, given the lack of urgency he has shown to investigate or take seriously reports that a foreign government attempted to interfere with U.S. elections. The leak of today’s report to the press is somewhat embarrassing to Trump, and indeed it may have been intended that way—his attacks on the intelligence community seem to have riled its members. The back and forth today is another escalation of the sniping between the president-elect and the spies he will soon command, it suggests he will take a hard line against leakers, as President Obama has done.

Trump Starts His Morning With a Fight Over the 'Celebrity Apprentice'

The Prompt

It’s simple: A few days ago, the ratings for NBC’s revamped Celebrity Apprentice, hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, became public. And they were, indeed, lower than the show’s previous ratings under host Donald Trump.

The Context

Trump seems to have his facts straight here. Schwarzenegger is a movie star, and he did support Ohio Governor John Kasich during the Republican primary. (It’s less clear who the former California governor supported in the general election, though it wasn’t Trump—a possible motivation for the salty tweets.) And Trump’s ratings were higher: Monday’s premiere of Celebrity Apprentice had an average of 4.9 million viewers. That’s less than the 6.5 million the season 14 premiere—Trump’s last—had. It’s also significantly less than the 18.5 million viewers who tuned it in for the 2004 debut of The Apprentice, the previous, celebrity-less version of the show.

Trump is also correct in asking “who cares,” because really—who does?

The Reaction

The fact that Trump is criticizing a show for which he’s still, controversially, an executive producer is odd. Unless, as some have pointed out on Twitter, he’s deliberately trying to manufacture controversy to boost interest in the program.

But if that’s his angle, he didn’t get Schwarzenegger on board for the fake fight.

Trump Takes Credit for Ford Move: 'Just the Beginning'

The Prompt

Ford announced Tuesday that due to lack of demand for the small cars a planned Mexican plant was set to produce, it is scrapping the project in favor of an investment in expanding a Flat Rock, Michigan, factory. At rallies, Trump had previously decried the plan for the Mexican plant, and he seems to be heralding Ford’s about-face as a big win for his campaign to keep American manufacturing jobs from moving to Mexico.

The Context

In 2015, Ford announced that it had come to an agreement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and would build a small-car production plant in Mexico. Trump has been going after the company since well back into his presidential campaign. In September 2016, he went so far as to baselessly claim Ford was going to "fire all its employees in the United States." The automaker tried to correct the record, but it likely wanted to stop the repeated attacks, as any company being attacked by a winning presidential candidate would. So now Ford is changing plans, pulling out of the roughly $1.7 billion investment in Mexico and announcing $700 million of spending on the Michigan facility that will produce, among other things, a hybrid Mustang due in 2020.


The Response

The company’s response threaded the needle between saying it had bowed to Trump and downplaying his influence. Ford claimed that the change was determined not by politics but by market factors—primarily shrinking demand for the small cars the Mexican plant would have built. As Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, said, “We didn't cut a deal with Trump. We did it for our business.” But, he was also careful to praise the president-elect, saying that the decision to manufacture in America represented “a vote of confidence” in the incoming administration’s proposed economic policies. In other words, Ford’s response amounts to an amicably-toned “Fine, but I’m doing it because I want to, not because you told me to.”

Ford is just one of several major manufacturers, including GM and Carrier, to face pressure from Trump to keep jobs at home.

Corporations have long sought to maintain good relationships with the government. But earning the personal favor of the president has not often been as important as it seems to be under Trump. Particularly outrageous corporate scandals have earned presidential condemnation before, and policies including parts of the post-2008 bailouts have been aimed at particular companies, not to mention the public finger-wagging banks often get during campaign season. But Trump’s tweets in this vein are the first time in modern memory that an incoming president has used his platform to try to move public opinion for or against particular corporate decisions solely on the basis of whether they accord with his economic philosophy (in Trump’s case, trade protectionism).

In a system in which corporations might be subject to a personal scolding from the American president for their business decisions, one response might be to give the man what he wants without seeming obeisant or too cozy in the eyes of customers who might find it unseemly. As it happens, this is exactly what Ford appears to have done.

Trump Renews His Feud With the Intelligence Community Over Russian Hacking

The Prompt

Trump said last week that while it was time to “move on” from claims that the Russian government interfered in the presidential election, he would take an intelligence briefing this week to hear them out. Now he says that briefing has been delayed in this scare-quote-studded missive.

The Context

The president-elect has publicly dismissed intelligence-community assessments that Russia was behind hacks against top Democrats during the election, although he has reportedly been briefed on the matter many times, including during the election. He has offered other suggestions, including “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” And perhaps for good reason: Given that officials have said they believe the hacks were intended to help Trump win the election, it would be awkward for him to acknowledge that. Since the election, he has skipped intelligence briefings repeatedly.

The Reaction

Shortly after Trump tweeted, NBC News reported that the briefing had never been scheduled for Wednesday, as did CNN. That means either Trump or the intelligence officials aren’t telling the truth, neither of which is an appealing option. Trump has staked his response to the crisis on the assumption that the reputation of U.S. intelligence is weak among the general public, a risky battle. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warns that Trump risks starting a war with a powerful enemy—which may be true, but also makes the case that the intelligence community needs better civilian oversight.

Trump to Chevy: ‘Make in U.S.A. or Pay Big Border Tax!’

The Tweet

The Prompt

The tweet doesn’t appear to be pegged to any particular news of the day, but it follows General Motors’s November announcement that it would be laying off 2,000 workers, most of them from a Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant that produces the Chevrolet Cruze. GM had announced that it would start building some Cruzes in Mexico in March 2015.

The Context

Apart from President-elect Trump’s history of Twitter-feuding with another type of Cruzes, many of his most public acts since the election have centered on jawboning or  cajoling specific companies. He had a hand in getting Carrier Corporation to keep 730 of the roughly 1,300 jobs it had planned to outsource, arranging for a $7 million payout from his vice president-elect’s home state of Indiana to the appliance company. He has used his Twitter account to press two of the biggest government weapons contractors, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, on the price tags of big-ticket projects. Most relevantly, he claimed that a phone call with Ford’s chairman, Bill Ford, led the company to keep a Kentucky plant in the U.S., though the company had never planned to move the plant in the first place.

The Response

Trump gives GM two options: “make in U.S.A.” or “pay big border tax.” But neither makes much sense. To take them in order:

Virtually all Chevy Cruzes are built in the U.S. GM posted a response to its website soon after Trump’s tweet, clarifying that “General Motors manufactures the Chevrolet Cruze sedan in Lordstown, Ohio. All Chevrolet Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. are built in GM’s assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. GM builds the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback for global markets in Mexico, with a small number sold in the U.S.” Reuters reports that roughly 4,500 Cruze hatchbacks are sold annually in America, compared with about 190,000 Cruze sedans. That represents slightly over 2 percent of the units of this one model, from just this one of the 12 brands owned by General Motors, the biggest American automaker. (For reference, the company sold about 10 million vehicles in 2015.) Does Trump really expect GM to create or tool a whole U.S.-based plant just to build the few hatchback Cruzes that sell in the U.S.? It’s perfectly plausible that the president-elect didn’t consider the logistics of his demand to GM, which gets back to the same old issues with a policy-maker using his phone to name and shame specific companies for political points.

Not least because Trump has chosen to fight this battle over a relatively small issue, the tweet’s second option, to have an American company manufacturing abroad “pay [a] big border tax” on imports, is worrying. The money for this border tax, or import tariff, would have to come from somewhere. It would likely come from car buyers, in the form of higher prices. This is the opposite of a victory for consumers, at a moment when, for the first time in generations, much of the U.S. middle-class is finding the average new car to be a reach. Virtually every American has an interest in paying less for cars and other imported products, as well as avoiding retributive tariffs on exports that make it harder to sell domestic products abroad. Yet only a specific and (primarily due to automation) shrinking group has an interest in Americans getting paid more to build cars. They probably can’t bank their futures on Trump personally intervening every time some of them find their jobs in danger.

Trump’s affinity for these sort of public victories for his trade-protectionist agenda could create an incentive for companies to make political decisions to stay onshore or to move operations back to the U.S. in order to win favor with the White House. And that could lead to a short-term benefit in the sector’s employment at the cost of marginally higher prices on consumer goods. Over the long-term, though, no amount of personal heroics by political leaders can stop U.S. employment’s ultimate move away from industrial manufacturing..

'There Should Be No Further Releases From Gitmo,' Trump Says


The Washington Post editorial board urged him late Monday to close the U.S. detention center, arguing that its continued existence hands “easy propaganda victories to enemies of the United States.” NPR on Tuesday reported that the White House is pushing to get the detainees who have been cleared for release out of Guantanamo before Trump is sworn in later this month. Neither is likely to have persuaded him to change his mind.

The Context

At its peak, the prison in Guantanamo held 775 prisoners who were captured in the war on terrorism. Candidate Barack Obama vowed to close the facility during his first year in office. Although he failed, he did succeed in transferring the overwhelming majority of detainees to their home countries or those nations that would take them. About 40 remain.

The Response

Trump’s tweet can be broken up into two parts. In the first, he says, the detainees “are extremely dangerous people” though some 19 of them who are awaiting transfer have been vetted by intelligence, military, and law enforcement officials. At least 40 prisoners are being held indefinitely, though military and intelligence officials now believe many of the dozens of detainees were improperly labeled “the worst of the worst” and unfit for release. In the second part of his tweet, Trump says the detainees “should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.” That’s a common refrain among those opposed to closing Guantanamo. But, as my colleague Marina Koren noted last year, Congress-mandated reports from the Obama administration’s intelligence officials show the rate of confirmed recidivism is about 17 percent—or fewer than 1 in 5.

Trump Dismisses North Korea’s Nuclear Threats—and Denounces China

The Prompt

North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, rang in the new year by announcing that preparations for test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—the kind of missile that could be fitted with a nuclear warhead and endanger the continental United States—were in their “last stage," getting 2017 off to a horrendous start.

The Context

The scale of the nuclear threat from North Korea, the most cloistered country in the world, is difficult to assess, and varies depending on whether you’re in Seoul or Tokyo or Washington, D.C. Kim Jong Un, who took power after his father’s death in 2011, has conducted three of the country’s five nuclear tests and a flurry of ballistic-missile tests. Some experts believe North Korea is already capable of building nuclear bombs small enough to be placed on short- and mid-range missiles, which could potentially hit South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. territory of Guam, among other targets; other experts don’t think the North Koreans have made that much progress. Siegfried Hecker, who studies the North Korean nuclear program, recently estimated that North Korea is five to 10 years away from developing what Kim Jong Un alluded to over the weekend: a nuclear-tipped long-range missile that could reach the continental United States.

During the presidential campaign, Trump described Kim Jong Un as a ruthless “maniac” but said he was willing to enter into direct talks with the North Korean leader over the nuclear program. He accused China—already in Trump’s crosshairs for, as Trump tells it, stealing American jobs and gutting the U.S. economy through unfair trade practices—of not applying pressure on North Korea in a way that only it can. China is North Korea’s most vital ally.

The Response

The North Korean government has a habit of engaging in provocative behavior when its adversaries are in the midst of political transitions, and the United States and South Korea are both in that position as 2017 begins. Barack Obama has reportedly advised Trump that the rapid advance of North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program should be the top national-security concern of the incoming administration. Most U.S. presidents face an international crisis within their first year in office, and many have struggled with the early test, regardless of how experienced they or their advisers were. Trump’s first crisis may very well involve North Korea’s nuclear program, despite the intense focus on ISIS, China, Russia, and the border with Mexico during the U.S. election.

Trump’s tweets hint at the coming challenge from North Korea, but they also raise critical questions about how the Trump administration will respond to that challenge. When Trump says, “It won’t happen!”, does that mean he doubts North Korea’s capacity to acquire long-range nuclear weapons? Is he threatening to use some sort of force—bombs, special forces, cyber weapons, assassinations of North Korean scientists—to try and reverse the North Korean nuclear program? What economic measures is Trump willing to take against China in order to neutralize the threat from North Korea?

The problems posed by the North Korean nuclear program will help clarify several big unknowns about Trump’s presidency, including the president-elect’s vision of U.S.-China relations, approach to high-stakes foreign-policy crises, ability to strike grand deals on seemingly unrelated issues, and commitment to stopping the spread of the deadliest weapon ever invented.

Trump: The Congressional Ethics Office May Be 'Unfair,' but It Shouldn't Have Been a Priority

The Prompt

On Sunday night, the House Republican Caucus took a secret-ballot vote to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, placing it under the ethics committee whose failures it was designed to remedy.

The Context

The ethics office was an outgrowth of the Jack Abramoff scandal in 2008, an effort to police corruption without partisan entanglements. Some members of Congress have complained, bitterly, about its willingness to investigate anonymous complaints—which the new rules, among other things, would bar it from doing.

The Response

Trump’s tweets, curiously, invoked his oft-made pledge to “drain the swamp” (#DTS) but offered no substantive criticism of the House’s move. Instead, he suggested its timing sent the wrong message about priorities, even as he affirmed that the current ethics set up may be “unfair.” He’s not alone on either count. Paul Ryan, who reportedly opposed the move but didn’t block it, released a statement suggesting that the committee was “in need of reform to protect due process.” And a majority of his fellow Republicans evidently agreed.

The House’s Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, drove home Trump’s point about the signal sent by the move, declaring that “ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

For Trump, the focus on ethics may prove particularly inconvenient. He still has not held the long-promised press conference detailing how he’ll disentangle himself from his complex array of family businesses. Despite early promises, he never released his tax returns. And as my colleague Russell Berman reports, he’s been naming his cabinet members without first securing signed ethics agreements, which may produce conflicts during confirmation hearings. Whatever the virtues or vices of the old ethics process, this was not the conversation the president-elect wanted to be having.

Trump Takes Aim at Obamacare


The Prompt

No explicit motive for Trump’s two-tweet takedown of the ACA was given. But Congress starts its new session today, and the first big item on the agenda is the fight to repeal—or save—Obamacare. Across the executive and legislative branches, Republicans are united most by their pledge to get rid of Obama’s signature health reform, and Trump is likely to continue to stoke the fires of repeal during the debate.

The Context

Enrollees in the Arizona exchanges will face 116 percent increases in total premiums this year, but over three-quarters of those enrollees this year will receive government subsidies and will not see all or any of that increase. Only around five percent of Arizonans actually use the exchanges.

Former President Bill Clinton did call Obamacare the “craziest thing in the world.”  Clinton’s comments were critical of the market-based nature of pieces of the ACA, and he advocated for extending the public-insurance programs of Medicare and Medicaid to more people who cannot afford insurance. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton did criticize the law as too expensive for many Americans and stands by those criticisms.

The Response

Donald Trump and other Republicans have long cited the challenges within the private health-insurance exchanges as primary reasons to repeal Obamacare. But those objections often overstate the nature of problems within those exchanges, which form the smallest piece of the health-insurance pie. As in Arizona’s example, the sliver of people covered under the exchanges is rather small and the sliver of unsubsidized enrollees even smaller—though cost is still a significant challenge for millions of them. It is rather unclear, though, how existing Republican plans to provide health-insurance tax credits or vouchers at lower rates than many existing subsidies or plan-coverage limits will solve that problem.

Moreover, Trump’s criticisms are typical in that they don’t really address the bulk of the ACA, most notably its expansion of Medicaid to cover millions of previously uninsured people. Though he takes Clinton’s and Dayton’s comments as support for a repeal, both of them made clear that their criticisms were calls to improve on Obamacare’s base, rather than repeal it. Clinton’s comments are especially misconstrued here, as his stance appears to be that the addition of a public option, an expansion of Medicare into near-elderly populations, and an expansion of Medicaid to more low-income people are necessary components of further reform. Plans favored by Republicans generally seek to roll back public insurance and federal commitments to coverage.

Trump: Chicago's Mayor 'Must Ask for Federal Help'

The Prompt

None offered. But the city’s official tally of its deadly year received extensive media coverage, and Trump often tweets about stories he’s seen featured on the cable news networks.

The Context

There’s no question that Chicago is in crisis, with murders surging 60 percent since last year. An analysis of national trends from the Brennan Center, released in September, estimated that Chicago’s murders accounted for half the nationwide increase—and of the 30 large cities it studied, Chicago was the only one to show large increases in crime two years running. Trump has called for Chicago to implement stop-and-frisk policing, and said that if police were tougher, they could stop the crime wave in a week. But it’s unclear what sort of federal assistance he’s placing on offer.

The Response

Although crime is up in Chicago, it’s not actually record setting. It’s not close to the 974 total homicides in 1974, or the 34 per 100,000 residents in 1992. But it’s awful enough. Researchers aren’t sure why crime has fallen nationally for the past two decades, and they’re not sure why in some cities it’s now rising again. Most agree, though, that stop-and-frisk is fairly ineffective, and in practice, often unconstitutional. In Chicago, police blame endemic gang violence and witness intimidation, among other factors. The city also as an abysmally low rate of solving murders—perhaps because repeated police scandals have sowed distrust, but also because the detective and crime scene units have shrunk even as murders have spiked.

Trump has had an up-and-down relationship with the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, a famously pugnacious liberal and former chief of staff to President Obama. At one point, Trump donated $50,000 to his mayoral campaign, and he met with him a month ago. But in March, protestors broke up a Trump rally in Chicago, and the city frequently served as a target for Trump, as he has consistently exaggerated the actual rise in violent crime and risks of inner-city life.

But if America remains far safer than its been for most of the lives of contemporary Americans, there has been a small uptick the past couple years in some key indicators, and in Chicago, it’s a genuine crisis. Could federal assistance make a difference? President Bill Clinton pushed through a bill that led to the hiring of nearly 100,000 officers, and criminologists have generally credited it for having some positive effect—accounting for perhaps as much as 10 percent of the total decline. If the president-elect wants to offer additional resources to the city, it could make a real difference—but so far, he’s offered a tweet with no specifics.

Trump Wishes His 'Many Enemies' a Happy New Year

The Prompt

It was New Year’s Eve. Then it was New Year’s Day. And then New Year’s Day (Observed). If it’s worth celebrating once, why not three times?

The Context

The first tweet and the last were posted from an Android phone, which has typically been the electronic signature of tweets Trump composes and sends himself. In between came a flurry of activity from an iPhone, including the middle tweet and a retweet of an almost identical sentiment from Dan Scavino Jr., Trump’s twitter consigliere and the newly designated White House director of social media. The iPhone also shared New Year’s greetings from Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr., and from incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

The Response

The first tweet was classic Trump. Three years ago, he marked September 11 by extending best wishes to all, “even the haters and losers.” American politics has come a long way since 1973, when the disclosure that President Nixon maintained an enemies list was treated as a shocking revelation, and perhaps an indication he was unfit for office. Trump’s taunting of his defeated foes often seemed to buoy his electoral appeal, not deflate it.

But the first and last tweet illustrate the challenge facing Trump, as his moves from being a candidate to a president. As my colleague Molly Ball has noted, in many ways, Trump has never stopped running his primary campaign, or reveling in his victories. It’s been a signature element of his rallies, his interviews, and his tweets. And for all the mockery it’s drawn and sensibilities it’s offended, it highlights the core of his message—that he’s a winner, and he’ll help American win again.

But that message may have its limits. Trump won the Republican primary with a plurality, and polled millions fewer votes than Hillary Clinton on his way to a win in November. In less than three weeks, he’ll be the president of the United States of America—of those who voted for him, those who opposed him, and those who didn’t vote at all. Most presidents begin their terms sounding more like the last of these tweets than the first; calling on their fellow Americans to join them in building a brighter future. Whether Trump wants to follow that path, or continue to relive his campaign-trail triumphs, remains to be seen.

Trump Praises Putin's 'Smart' Delay

The Prompt

On Thursday, President Obama announced a series of measures retaliating against Russia for alleged hacking to interfere with the presidential election, including sanctions on some individuals, expulsion of some officials, and revoking access to two estates. Despite expectations that Russian President Vladimir Putin would retaliate, the Kremlin instead said that “further steps towards the restoration of Russian-American relations will be built on the basis of the policies carried out by the administration of President Trump”—apparently the “delay” to which Trump refers.

The Context

The matter of alleged Russian hacking remains a sore spot for the Trump. He is upset that the intelligence community and Obama administration have openly blamed Russia and said the intention was to help Trump, since that delegitimizes the president-elect; Trump has suggested it is all sour grapes after Hillary Clinton’s loss. But Trump had been cozying up to Putin for months beforehand. He promised to have closer relations with him, said they got along well (and then clarified that they had never met), suggested he’d recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and has refused to acknowledge the idea that Russia might have been behind the hacks.

The Response

This is a peculiar state of affairs: The president-elect of the United States is praising and siding with a foreign leader in a dispute with the U.S. government, the day after the U.S. government levied sanctions on that country for interfering in elections. Trump’s tweet, as Glenn Thrush notes, amounts to Trump praising himself—for believing Putin to be smart—and disguising it as praise for Putin.

Trump Pledges to Do Two Things the Government Already Does

My Administration will follow two simple rules: BUY AMERICAN and HIRE AMERICAN! #USA

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

The Prompt

Unclear. But bringing jobs back to the United States has been a consistent theme for President-elect Donald Trump. On Wednesday, he took credit for 5,000 jobs from Sprint coming to the United States. That generated an initial flurry of positive headlines, until it became clear that these jobs were part of a Softbank initiative for which he’d already claimed credit, and which had, in any event, been planned prior to his election.

The Context

Existing federal rules already limit civil-service positions to American citizens in almost all circumstances—and congressional appropriations generally bar direct hiring of non-citizens. Similarly, since Herbert Hoover signed the Buy American Act in 1933, the federal government has generally required all federal agencies to prefer American-made goods when making purchases. In practice, that usually means that the lowest foreign bid needs to be 6 percent below the lowest American bid from a large business, 12 percent below an American small business, or 50 percent below a defense-related bid in order to win the contract.

But that’s direct hiring and purchasing. Contracting rules are more nebulous—and as the government has increasingly outsourced functions in pursuit of efficiency, rules requiring American hiring and purchasing haven’t always kept pace. Subsequent federal legislation has imposed some restrictions on transportation projects, some defense purchases, and stimulus-bill projects. Some international trade agreements have also complicated the picture, limiting the government’s ability to put a thumb on the scale in favor of American businesses. But if this is what Trump is driving at, he’s sending mixed signals: Congressional Republicans stripped a buy-American provision out of a water infrastructure bill earlier in December, and despite repeated entreaties from Democrats, Trump declined to weigh in on the debate.

The Response

It’s unclear whether there’s anything remotely new in this pledge, which lacks the sort of specifics necessary to evaluate it in any meaningful way. But then, there’s also Trump’s own record on these issues. Both Donald and Ivanka Trump have attached their names to countless products manufactured abroad, and sold in the United States—and it’s not clear that they have a viable alternative, as The New York Times reports. A CNN investigation recently found that Trump’s businesses have received 1,256 permits for foreign guest workers in the past 15 years, and filed for at least 78 for the coming year. His defenders, though, including Trump himself, have argued that the broken system has necessitated such moves, and that it’s precisely Trump’s knowledge and exploitation of the current system that positions him to fix it. But if he has remedies in mind, he’s been notably short on specifics.

Trump: 'Thought It Was Going to Be a Smooth Transition - NOT!'

The Prompt

Trump was attacking the decision by the United States not to veto last week’s United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its settlement policy, but the timing suggests that Secretary of State John Kerry’s address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may have been the proximate trigger for the comments.

The Context

The president-elect is clearly frustrated by the Obama administration’s efforts to alter the United States’s posture to the conflict on its way out the door. But as the first tweet in the sequence suggests, this is only the most recent flashpoint in a transition process that began with promises of amity, and which has devolved into acrimony. He’s hardly alone, though, in his complaints about the substantive policy at issue here—although many critics of Israeli policy are applauding the moves, the administration has also attracted some withering opposition from both sides of the aisle, including from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who said that as a result of the abstention at the U.N., “Israel's enemies were strengthened.”

The Response

Where to begin? It’s remarkable to see this particular president-elect attacking the administration on the grounds that it’s violating procedural norms and deviating from long-held foreign-policy stances, criticisms more commonly applied to Trump. His insistent insertion of himself into public-policy debates has challenged the principle that the nation has just one president at a time, as my colleague Uri Friedman has written. Critics pin the blame for the souring transition squarely on Trump himself, and many see the moves at the U.N. as long overdue. But others take a more jaundiced view of the administration’s last-minute Middle East maneuvers, believing it should defer action on non-time-sensitive issues for the new administration.

Trump Thanks Himself for Surging Consumer Confidence

The Prompt

This time, the president-elect made it easy. He was responding to the release of the Consumer Confidence Index, a monthly survey of 5,000 households by the the Conference Board, and independent economic-research organization. And he actually understated the increase, which was slightly more than four points.

The Context

Consumers are, on average, feeling optimistic about the future, and Trump can fairly take credit for that. A PRRI / The Atlantic poll showed something similar last month. But that survey, like a recent Gallup poll, showed a strong partisan tilt. What’s happened is that, since the election, Trump supporters are feeling better about the future, and that’s pulling up overall sentiment.

The Response

Like most economic news, the CCI offers something of a mixed bag. It’s expectations that are rising, not consumers’ assessment of their present circumstances. Trump may struggle to produce economic growth that can keep pace with those rising expectations. And more than a few commentators raised their eyebrows at his final, “Thanks Donald!”—both for its use of the third person, and for its echo of the sarcastic, “Thanks, Obama!” of recent years.