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  • White House
  • Congress
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

President Trump will try to bring his pitchman's A-game to his first State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress and a national television audience, though even the strongest performance may not sway many voters.

Trump will have about 60 minutes of prime time Tuesday night to try to turn public opinion as his approval rating sits at historic lows for a president at this point in his term, and his party faces the prospect of losing control of the House and perhaps the Senate in the midterm election.

Many viewers will tune in to hate-watch Trump, though a president's fans are usually more likely to watch such speeches than are opponents. Only about 4 in 10 Americans say they approve of Trump's performance in office, numerous polls have shown. His challenge will be to reach the shrinking slice of swing voters who can be persuaded that he is taking the country in the right direction.


Americans probably will hear a lot about the economy in President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

Among the main points Trump will make in the speech are taking credit for creating jobs and boosting the economy, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a preview of the president's remarks.

Here’s context for some of the comments he’s likely to make.


President Trump has spent the last year trampling many of the courtesies and customs associated with his office and the swampy bog, Washington, he now calls home.

But there is one ritual that holds fast: the State of the Union address, set for delivery Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.

Vaguely prescribed in the Constitution — Article II, Section 3, Clause 1, for those keeping score — the speech fulfills the obligation of the president “from time to time” to give “to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” (And it’s been a he, invariably, for the last 229 years.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 29.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 29. (Alexei Nikolsky / Kremlin Pool Photo)

The Trump administration late Monday released a long-awaited list of 114 Russian politicians and 96 "oligarchs" who have flourished under President Vladimir Putin, fulfilling a demand by Congress that the U.S. punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

The political list is the entire presidential administration, as listed on the Kremlin website, and the Russian Cabinet, while the oligarchs list is a carbon copy of the top of the Forbes magazine's Russian billionaires' list. The publication of the so-called "Putin list" angered and dismayed many in Moscow.

Yet the administration paired that move with a surprising announcement that it had decided not to punish anybody — for now — under new sanctions retaliating for the election-meddling. Some U.S. lawmakers accused President  Trump of giving Russia a free pass, fueling further questions about whether the president is unwilling to confront Moscow.

Former combat pilot Martha McSally was put off by Donald Trump when he ran for president.

Supreme Court weighs appeal in gerrymandering case.
Supreme Court weighs appeal in gerrymandering case. (Olivier Douliery / TNS)

The Supreme Court signaled Monday it may be open to blocking a state ruling on partisan gerrymandering at the behest of Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders.

Last week Pennsylvania’s high court struck down the state’s election districts on the grounds they were drawn to give the GOP a 13-5 majority of its seats in the House of Representatives.

Unlike other recent rulings, the state justices said they based their ruling solely on the state’s constitution. Usually, the U.S. Supreme Court has no grounds for reviewing a state court ruling that is based on state law.

  • Congress
Antiabortion advocates rally outside the Supreme Court last year.
Antiabortion advocates rally outside the Supreme Court last year. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The Senate turned back legislation Monday to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, halting a Republican-led effort to restrict access to the late-term procedure with a bill that President Trump said he would sign into law.

The House had passed the measure last fall and Trump’s endorsement this month gave it new momentum. But on a 51-46 Senate vote, it failed to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Democratic-led filibuster to advance.

Voting in Congress largely fell along party lines. In the Senate, two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, opposed the bill. Three Democrats, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, voted in favor.

McCabe ran the bureau for several months after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in May.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is leaving his position ahead of a previously planned retirement this spring.

McCabe has been a frequent target of criticism from President Trump.

Two people familiar with the decision described it to the Associated Press on Monday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Jay-Z acknowledges his Industry Icon award during the Clive Davis party on the eve of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28 in New York.
Jay-Z acknowledges his Industry Icon award during the Clive Davis party on the eve of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28 in New York. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty Images)

To the list of prominent African American figures against whom President Trump has aired grievances on Twitter, add Jay-Z.

The president began his Sunday by suggesting that the award-winning hip-hop artist was unaware that black unemployment stood at “LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED,” crediting himself and his economic policies for the phenomenon.

Trump was apparently responding to a television interview the night before, in which Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, criticized the president’s profane description of African countries and Haiti, calling Trump’s characterization “hurtful.”

President Trump, in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, will call for overhauling immigration and spending more on the military and infrastructure. But his vision will confront political realities and budget constraints created by Republicans' recent tax cuts, which he'll tout as a boon to the economy.