Let this thread serve to discuss the President generally outside of the context of the Russia Investigation. I want to just set the table of discussion by detailing some of today's headlines: CNBC: Trump claims he would have 'run' into Florida high school during shooting Spoiler President Donald Trump criticized a sheriff's deputy again Monday for failing to take action during the shooting massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school on Feb. 14. The president suggested he personally would have taken action in a similar situation. He called the sheriff's office's conduct "disgusting" and said the deputies "weren't exactly Medal of Honor winners." "I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon. And I think most of the people in this room would have done that too," the president told a meeting of 39 state governors at the White House. Trump, who attended New York Military Academy as a teenager, did not get drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. He received deferments for college education and bone spurs in his feet. CNBC: Trump reportedly wants drug dealers to face the death penalty Spoiler Trump reportedly wants drug dealers to face the death penalty 2 Hours Ago | 00:55 The leader of the world's largest economy believes all drug dealers should face the death penalty, news website Axios reported late on Sunday. President Donald Trump considers drug traffickers to be as bad as serial killers and would "love to have a law" that executes dealers in the U.S., unnamed sources told Axios. While he admits that such a law would be impossible to pass, the head of state may support legislation that requires a five-year minimum sentence for dealers selling as little as two grams of fentanyl, Axios stated. Use of the synthetic opiod, more potent than heroin, has been steadily climbing in North America, producing an increasing number of fatal overdoses. The government must make drug dealers fear for their lives, Trump has told associates, pointing to Singapore and the Philippines — where offenders can face death — as examples. ... (note from Gourimoko: this was said in support of strongman Rodrigo Duterte). Fortune: Donald Trump Has Recommended His Personal Pilot to Head the FAA Spoiler President Donald Trump’s personal pilot, John Dunkin, is being considered as a potential new head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Axios reported late Sunday that Dunkin was on the shortlist, thanks to Trump’s recommendation, and that he had already undergone an interview for the post. The Washington Post confirmed that Dunkin was “in the mix” for the post. “John Dunkin isn’t just a pilot,” Axios quoted an unnamed White House official as saying. “He’s managed airline and corporate flight departments, certified airlines from start-up under FAA regulations, and oversaw the Trump presidential campaign’s air fleet, which included managing all aviation transportation for travel to 203 cities in 43 states over the course of 21 months.” Trump has previously told airline executives that Dunkin is “a real expert” and a “smart guy.” Politico: The Real Game Trump Is Playing on NAFTA: He isn’t negotiating. He’s stalling for time. Spoiler As the United States, Canada and Mexico head into the seventh round of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, there is a question increasingly looming over the talks: Why hasn’t Donald Trump pulled the plug already? The president has made no secret of his loathing for NAFTA, calling it during the campaign “the worst trade deal in history.” He came very close to ending it nearly a year ago, in April 2017, but reportedly was talked down at the last minute by personal calls from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Throughout the year, as the negotiations dragged past their original end-of-2017 deadline with no progress in sight, Trump continued to threaten withdrawal. As recently as the last round in Montreal in January, Canadian officials were telling reporters in advance that they were certain Trump was on the verge of pulling the U.S. out of NAFTA. And yet, even with the president’s top trade negotiator acknowledging last month after the Montreal round that the talks are “progressing very slowly,” Trump now looks increasingly unlikely to leave the table. He told the Wall Street Journal that he was “leaving it a little bit flexible,” and acknowledged that it would be hard to conclude a new NAFTA prior to Mexico's general election on July 1. “There’s no rush,” he added. That could mean the talks will now drag on until 2019, since the new Mexican president will not even take office until December. Is Trump getting cold feet, then, on NAFTA? That is certainly possible — pressure from pro-trade Republican members of Congress and from Republican governors from export-dependent states has been growing. Pulling out of NAFTA would generate a backlash within his own party, and would probably upset financial markets as well. Vox: Mexican president’s meeting with Trump is called off over the border wall. The same thing happened last year. Spoiler Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is 0 for 2 for actually making it to a meeting with at the White House. He called off plans to travel to Washington, DC after a testy call over Trump’s border wall. If that story feels familiar, it’s because it is: Around this time last year, the same thing happened. The Washington Post reported on Saturday evening that Peña Nieto was considering an official trip to the White House in February or March but that Mexico and the US called off the plan after Trump refused to agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it wouldn’t pay for a wall at the US-Mexico border. The two presidents reportedly spoke by phone for nearly an hour last week, and neither would budge on the matter. For Mexico, the wall is considered offensive, and accepting it would be a blow to national pride. For Trump, it is a campaign trail crowd pleaser that is a big deal for his die-hard supporters. “The problem is that President Trump has painted himself, President Peña Nieto and the bilateral relationship into a corner,” Arturo Sarukhan, a former Mexican ambassador to the US, told the Post. “Even from the get-go, the idea of Mexico paying for the wall was never going to fly. His relationship with Mexico isn’t strategically driven. It’s not even business; it’s personal, driven by motivations and triggers, and that’s a huge problem. It could end up with the US asking itself, ‘Who lost Mexico?’” Al-Jazeera: Trump announces 'heaviest ever' North Korea sanctions Spoiler The US has imposed its "heaviest ever" sanctions against North Korea, President Donald Trump says, as the US seeks to prevent North Korea from further developing its nuclear programme. The measures - aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping companies and vessels - will heighten pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a US treasury department statement, said on Friday. "This will significantly hinder the Kim regime's capacity to conduct evasive maritime activities that facilitate illicit coal and fuel transports, and erode its abilities to ship goods through international waters," Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary, said. "The president has made it clear to companies worldwide that if they choose to help fund North Korea's nuclear ambitions, they will not do business with the United States." The new sanctions target almost all shipping currently being used by North Korea, Mnuchin said. The measures prohibit US citizens from dealing with more than 50 vessels and companies, and one person, located in countries including North Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Assets held by the firms within the US will also be blocked. Trump described the measures as the "heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before" in an address in Washington on Friday. He cautioned the US will "have to go to phase two" if the sanctions don't have Washington's desired effect, adding that "may be a very rough thing ... very unfortunate for the world", Reuters news agency reported. The Guardian: White House refuses to address petition calling on Trump to release tax returns. (The petition has attracted more than 1.1 million signatures and is arguably the highest profile item among a backlog of requests) Spoiler The White House is ducking a high-profile petition calling on Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The petition has attracted more than 1.1 million signatures and is arguably the highest profile item among a backlog of requests of the government from ordinary Americans, which has been piling up at the White House. After more than a year with little response on the backlog, the administration is addressing the raft of petitions submitted on the White House website. The website, known as “We the People,” was launched by the Obama administration in 2011. The site was briefly taken down by the administration last year but was relaunched in late January. The White House says the tax-return question “is not within the scope” of the government feedback tool because the issue “does not address an action or policy of the Federal Government.” The tax petition reached the 100,000-signature threshold for a response on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, after being a persistenttopic during the presidential election. The administration has, meanwhile, declined to respond to a petition calling on the president to place his financial holdings in a blind trust. In addition to protest coming from Trump opponents, the website has also been embraced by conservatives looking to push their priorities. The White House addressed an August 2017 petition seeking to declare as a terrorist organization “AntiFa,” a loose collection of self-proclaimed anti-fascist activists whose occasionally violent protests attract national headlines. The White House said Trump opposes violence but that federal law provides no “mechanism for formally designating domestic terrorist organizations.” The administration has received dueling petitions on money for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, which the president has sought to strip of public money. One petition wants the funding preserved, another calls for defunding the programs, as Trump requested in his 2018 budget request. Another key petition awaiting a response opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality regulations last year. Another calls for scrapping the 1934 National Firearms Act, which categorizes weapons for federal registration. CNBC: Ivanka Trump: I believe my father's denials of sexual misconduct Spoiler Ivanka Trump says she believes her father's denials of sexual misconduct. Trump, who led the U.S. delegation at the closing ceremony for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, made the comment in an interview aired Monday on NBC. Asked if she believed women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, Ivanka Trump called it a "pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter." She says: "I believe my father, I know my father. I think I have that right as a daughter, to believe my father." The president has been accused of inappropriate behavior by more than a dozen women. He has denied the allegations. New York Magazine: Trump Reluctant to Overrule FBI, Give Kushner Security Clearance Spoiler Throughout his general election campaign, Donald Trump argued that mishandling classified information was such a betrayal of the public’s trust and security, any official who did so was unqualified for the presidency — and fit for a prison sentence. Throughout his presidency, Trump has allowed Jared Kushner — who repeatedly failed to disclose all of his foreign contacts to the FBI; is (ostensibly) a person of interest in an ongoing counterintelligence investigation; and was desperately seeking a $400 million investment from an entity tied to the Chinese government weeks before he moved into the White House — to access highly classified intelligence despite his son-in-law’s persistent failure to pass an FBI background check. The president has generally shrugged off these sorts of contradictions, like they were so many allegations of sexual misconduct. But in this case, Trump is (reportedly) reluctant to formally overrule the FBI on his son-in-law’s behalf. And this rare concern with keeping up appearances is keeping Kushner locked in limbo. Asked about whether his son-in-law would retain his interim security clearance at a news conference Friday, Trump replied, “That’ll be up to General Kelly. General Kelly respects Jared a lot and General Kelly will make that call … I won’t make that call. I will let the general … make that call.” But it’s not clear whether Trump wants to defer to his chief of staff’s judgment — or whether he actually wants John Kelly to do his dirty nepotistic business for him. ... I'll post my thoughts on some of these articles (left DACA out since there is a thread for it) in subsequent posts.