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Trump's Week Ahead


The president is scheduled to meet with Democratic leaders to discuss infrastructure on Tuesday. Yes, it might just be infrastructure week again. But with the president promising to ignore all the subpoenas amid myriad congressional investigations, will that meeting actually build bridges? Joining me to discuss this and the latest political news is NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe. Good morning.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Ayesha, last week we saw a very defiant president and White House when it came to congressional subpoenas and testifying before Congress. President Trump says he's going to fight everything. Where are we now?

RASCOE: Well, we're going to see a real fight, legally and politically, over what happens next. President Trump continues to say that it's time to go after the, quote, "other side," now. And what he means by that is he wants to investigate Democrats, who he's accused of starting the special counsel probe illegally. But he's also going after Democrats politically. And last night he was making the case for himself by accusing Democrats of being radical leftists. Here's a clip of him from a campaign rally in Wisconsin last night.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So Democrats are now the party of high taxes, high crime, open borders, late-term abortion, hoaxes and delusions.

RASCOE: And when he talks about hoaxes and delusions, he's talking directly about the Mueller investigation. And now that it's over, the idea is that his administration doesn't need to cooperate anymore, or that's their argument. So all of these issues are going to be litigated in court. The administration may not win all of these battles, especially on issues where executive privilege has already been waived. And Congress does have oversight authority, but it's a way to run out the clock because lawsuits take a long time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And a key player in all this, of course, is Attorney General Bill Barr. He's expected to testify in front of Congress this week. Will that happen, and what should we expect?

RASCOE: Right now we're thinking it's going to happen. But you can expect them to be contentious if they do. There are reportedly negotiations still going on about the format of the hearing with Barr. But just based on the way the administration has begun to respond to these oversight requests in this very defensive manner, they're not trying to make it easy on Democrats. At this point, Trump is pleased with Barr. After kind of all of Trump's anger at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, Barr has done what Trump wants him to do, which is stand up for him and protect him.

Now, Barr will have to answer for that, the press conference that he gave before the release of the Mueller report, where he repeated a lot of Trump's own arguments. And Democrats are going to press him on that and the summary, where they argue that - the summary of his - his summary of the report, which they argue was misleading and not really representative of the actual report. But for Barr, he's shown that his key audience is that audience of one, and that's Trump. So so far, his message has been in line with what Trump wants to hear.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Trump, as you mentioned, will be meeting with Democratic leaders this week to discuss infrastructure. It will be the first time Trump has met with Democratic leaders since the Mueller report was released. Given the tensions the report has created, will they be able to actually find some areas of agreement?

RASCOE: That's the big question. This hasn't worked before. There's always been this idea, really since the beginning of the - of his - of Trump's administration, that infrastructure was a place where he could work with the Democrats. But we just haven't seen real evidence that they are close to being in the same place on this issue. We've had a lot of infrastructure weeks but not a lot of infrastructure. So...



RASCOE: And with all of the other fighting, it's unclear that Trump will be willing to kind of work with the Democrats.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, in our few seconds left, Joe Biden has formally entered the 2020 Democratic presidential field. Trump responded in typical fashion. Do you think Trump's worried about Biden?

RASCOE: His camp will say he's not worried about anybody. But if they're worried about anybody, it would be Joe Biden. And it's because they view him as a moderate who could appeal to white, working-class voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. And that's right on Trump's turf.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, thank you so much.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.