Back after a nine day overseas trip, President Donald Trump returned to a familiar plan of operations on Sunday, as he used Twitter to jab at his critics and the news media, vowing to push ahead on his legislative agenda in the Congress, and making clear he wants a crack down on leaks from the U.S. Government.
“Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” the President said early on Sunday morning.
Here are some things to look for with Mr. Trump back at the White House:
1. The President isn’t going silent on Twitter. Despite some news reports while he was gone that aides have tried to limit Mr. Trump’s time on social media, @realDonaldTrump was doing more than just highlighting White House talking points, as he issued a series of tweets on Sunday morning and later in the evening that plowed familiar ground. The Twitter barrage started softly – “Big win in Montana for Republicans!” the President tweeted about Thursday’s special election victory for the GOP – but then the President revved his engines. “Fake News is the enemy,” Mr. Trump said, as he took aim at the news media.
2. Will the President be firing White House leakers? Another story that broke while Mr. Trump was gone was one that said three leakers inside the White House had been identified, and that the President would be getting rid of them once he returned to the U.S. No names were revealed, but it has resulted in plenty of rumors across the political spectrum, especially more from conservative figures on social media, who publicly pointed the finger at aides whom they argued are not reliably supportive of the President. While those stories have circulated, Mr. Trump floated a different possibility – that maybe there aren’t leaks after all.
3. Don’t forget the Trump Agenda in Congress. The President on Sunday pressed two of his biggest agenda items, tax cuts and overhaul of the Obama health law. One interesting note was that Mr. Trump seemed to argue for more spending in a GOP health plan that is now before the Senate. “I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere,” the President tweeted. The idea of spending more money on health care is not the GOP goal, as their plan would reduce spending on Medicaid by over $800 billion over the next ten years. And Mr. Trump’s budget trims another $600 billion in Medicaid spending. For now, Senators still haven’t forged a deal that can get a majority on health care – that will be their focus when they return to work on June 5. Asking the Republicans to spend more government money on health care does not seem to be a GOP priority, even though Mr. Trump tweeted out that idea.
4. The President presses for tax reform. In his Sunday tweets, Mr. Trump also used the bully pulpit to call for action in the Congress on tax cuts and tax reform. While both the House and Senate have held some introductory hearings, no real details have been handed out – other than one page of bullet points from the White House. While the President says it is “ahead of schedule,” Congress cannot act on a tax package until lawmakers finish action on health care overhaul. Despite his tweet, Mr. Trump’s tax plan has a lot of details that are TBD – and it’s not even clear that Congress can act on tax reform this year.
5. Is the White House readying a “War Room?” While the President jabbed at the press over leaks, he didn’t give any hints on whether there would a shakeup in his own communications team, which has been reported by a number of news organizations, saying the White House is ready to set up a rapid response team to deal with stories about the Russia investigation, and other matters for top staffers. The Russia story didn’t go away with Mr. Trump in Europe, and it won’t be easy to sidestep once he is back at the White House.
6. Will Spicer be out? Or just to the side? While the President was overseas, there were reports that Mr. Trump was ready to make major changes in how the communications team deals with the press. The White House has denied that Press Secretary Sean Spicer will be pushed out, but his job security has been the subject of roller coaster rumors for the past four months; we could see more of Sarah Sanders at briefings. There have also been rumblings about making major changes in the White House briefings, maybe even doing away with the televised daily briefing. That would certainly make some news.