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President Trump is expected as early as Thursday to sign off on his controversial plan to slap stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, but in a surprise reversal the White House opened the door to exemptions for products from Canada, Mexico and other U.S. allies.

During his California visit, President Trump will inspect border wall prototypes constructed in San Diego.
During his California visit, President Trump will inspect border wall prototypes constructed in San Diego. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

President Trump, the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to skip a visit to California in his initial year in office, finally will come to the Golden State on Tuesday to inspect prototypes for his proposed southern border wall, according to an administration official.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday said Trump would visit next week. Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to divulge internal planning, confirmed the president would spend Tuesday in the state with which he’s had the most fraught relationship.

The visit comes as the relationship between Trump and the Democratic state government has reached a new level of toxicity. Many residents consider California to be the center of resistance to Trump, and he has returned the sentiment, often criticizing the state— and suing it. The administration filed suit this week to enforce federal immigration actions.

  • White House

The White House said Mexico, Canada and other countries may be exempted from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs under national security "carve-outs."

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday told reporters that the exemptions would be on a "case- by-case" and a "country-by-country" basis.

The openness to country exemptions is a reversal from the policy articulated by the White House just days ago that there would be no exceptions to Trump's plan to put in place 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% on aluminum.

  • White House
  • Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin lavished praise on President Trump, saying he was a balanced man and a great communicator. (Mar 7, 2018)

Russian President Vladimir Putin lavished praise on President Trump on Wednesday, saying he was a balanced man and a great communicator.

“It’s possible to negotiate with him, to search for compromises,” Putin said in a wide-ranging interview aired on Russian television.

Putin, who briefly met Trump during two international summits last year, said the U.S. president during those encounters struck him as a man who listens and quickly understands complicated issues.

In the latest White House upheaval, President Trump’s chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, is stepping down after failing to dissuade the president from plans to impose sweeping tariffs on imported metals.

A Swedish reporter asked President Trump what her country could learn from the United States about Russia’s election meddling. Trump responded that Russia had not influenced the outcome of the 2016 election. (Mar. 7, 2018)

A Swedish reporter asked President Trump on Tuesday what her country could learn from the United States about Russia’s election meddling. What she got instead was his optimistic take on Republican Party prospects in this year’s midterm election.

Trump responded that Russia had not influenced the outcome of the 2016 election, saying “the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever.” He didn’t even acknowledge Russia’s role, instead telling the visiting journalist, “There was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals.”

After telling the reporter, at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, that “we’re doing a very, very deep study,” Trump segued confusingly to handicapping Republicans’ chances in November’s vote.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions.
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

President Trump on Tuesday said he has “some people that I want to change” in his administration and then refused to express support for his beleaguered attorney general when asked if Jeff Sessions was on the firing line.

The comments came before news early Tuesday evening of the resignation of Trump’s top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, who had fought a losing internal battle against the president’s plans to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The president ignited speculation about additional staff departures early Tuesday, with a tweet in which he disputed media reports of chaos in his White House while acknowledging his desire for unspecified changes. Hours later he refused to say more when asked about his tweet — and specifically about Sessions — during a news conference with Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven.

In the span of two hours on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the sharp split between liberal and moderate Senate Democrats on a major bank deregulation bill became crystal clear.

  • White House
The Office of Special Counsel says Conway’s support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, in two televised interviews amounted to violations of the law.

A federal watchdog says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the federal law prohibiting government officials from using their positions to influence political campaigns.

The Office of Special Counsel, which is unrelated to Robert Mueller III's office, says Conway violated the Hatch Act twice last year when she spoke out in support of Republican Roy Moore and against his Democratic rival, Sen. Doug Jones, in the Alabama Senate race.

"Ms. Conway, in her official capacity, attempted to influence the Alabama special election by advocating for the success and failure of candidates in that race," the report stated. Her comments came in separate interviews with Fox News and CNN.