Tariffs and tweets: This is the new world order under Donald Trump

Remember what the world was like in the pre-Donald Trump era when the President didn't communicate via Twitter?

Me neither.

This is the new world order, folks.

Exhibit A: A sampling of tweets from Trump this week

Attacking the former vice-president:

External Link: Donald Trump tweet: "Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!"

Defending his decision to congratulate Vladimir Putin on winning the Russian "election":

External Link: Trump tweet: "I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing……."

Attacking special counsel Robert Mueller:

External Link: Trump tweet: "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!"

And, finally, attacking former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe:

External Link: Trump tweet: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!"

Let's start there.

Mr McCabe, after much pressure from the Trump Administration (dating back to mid-last year), was finally sacked just days before he was due to retire.

The problem? His wife, who ran for Virginia State Senate, received campaign funds from Terry McAuliffe — former Virginia governor and a close ally to the Clintons.

(Don't forget, the Trumps previously donated to the Clintons, but anyway…)

Mr McCabe resigned a few months ago — but was still on the books, so to speak, until last weekend.

Instead of letting him quietly go into the night with his pension after 20 years of service, the Trump administration gave him one last kick out the door — curtailing his benefits.

A vindicated Mr Trump celebrated with glee — but just like the firing of James Comey (Mr McCabe's former boss), the decision to take revenge may hurt the President.

Mr McCabe sent an ominous warning, saying he's got contemporaneous memos of his interactions with Mr Trump, which could come back to haunt the commander-in-chief.

It also prompted strong criticism from other former members of the intelligence community:

External Link: @comey tweet: "Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."External Link: @JohnBrennan tweet: "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you."

After Mr McCabe's dismissal, Mr Trump set his sights on special counsel Mr Mueller.

Note: that's special counsel, Mr President.

External Link: @ianbremmer tweet: "Special council vs special counsel"

As Rick Wilson put it, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The institution is lengthened by the shadow of one man."

It's part of a piece in the Washington Post about how typos and sloppiness have come to define the Trump administration.

But what of the President who repeatedly talks tough — and visibly tests public sentiment before making decisions (remember, Rex Tillerson's sacking was months in the making)?

His lead lawyer defending against the special counsel's investigation, John Dowd, resigned (or was pushed out, depending on who you ask) today.

The New York Times said it was over a difference of strategy about how to handle Mr Mueller.

Mr Dowd was a proponent of cooperating with the inquiry, whereas Mr Trump has grown increasingly frustrated.

So, with Mr Dowd out of the way, will the President actually act on Mr Mueller?

And if he does, will Republicans on Capitol Hill stop him?

External Link: @frankthorp tweet: Q: Why are you so confident that Trump won't fire Mueller? HATCH: "Well, because I think it would be the stupidest thing that anybody could do."External Link: @kenvogel tweet: TRUMP’s firing of MUELLER "would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we are a rule-of-laws nation…& there are many Republicans that share my view,” LINDSEY GRAHAM tells @jaketapper.

They certainly seem willing to — for now.

Oh, and don't forget firing Mr Mueller would require several steps — first among them getting rid of the person who has responsibility for the investigation, Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein.

This has some way to run yet.

All this comes on the back of Mr Trump offering his congratulations to Mr Putin for a big election win on the weekend.

Seemingly, Mr Putin is one of the only ones the President goes out of his way to heap praise on — even if his own National Security Council tells him not to.

It doesn't help assuage suspicion over the Trumps and their dealings with Russia, and the age-old question: why, if the President is innocent, won't he forthrightly call out Mr Putin for Russia's interference campaign or the poisoning of a spy in the UK?

External Link: @SenJohnMcCain tweet: "Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded."

By the numbers

While tweets have been a mainstay of the Trump presidency, tariffs are his new favourite thing.

He dished them out universally for friends and foes just a few weeks ago (Australia managed to score an exemption). Woot!

Now, he's moved on from steel and aluminium and set his sights on China. The Dow tanked after the announcement, finishing down nearly 3 per cent.

The detail remains sparse, but the Trump Administrations says the proposed tariffs will include aerospace, information communication technology and machinery.


In other news this week

1. More 'adult models' are speaking out about their previous relations with the President (isn't it amazing that this isn't getting more play?)
2. Renowned brain surgeon and now Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson blamed his wife for the purchase of a $31,000 dining suite for his office
3. Disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn is back on the hustings — campaigning for a Republican candidate in California
4. Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City fame is running for New York governor. She cut an ad to launch her campaign earlier this week:

External Link: @CynthiaNixon tweet: "I love New York, and today I'm announcing my candidacy for governor"

This weekend hundreds of thousands of people will rally for gun control in the March for our Lives event sparked by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Half a million people are expected in DC alone.

The message is simply portrayed on this TIME cover:

External Link: @kylegriffin1 tweet: "The new cover of @TIME"

Editor's note: Zoe is taking a short break so this newsletter will not appear next week. It will be back after Easter.

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