Trump ramps up rhetoric on Iran
White House allies on president's wild week: 'It is typical Trump'
White House allies are pushing back at suggestions that President Trump is fixated on a possible recession as he heads into his reelection campaign next year.
They say a series of tweets and off-the-cuff comments this week that sparked various controversies, from a surprise fight with Denmark to the suggestion that Jewish Americans who vote Democratic are disloyal, were nothing out of the ordinary for the Trump White House.
"It is typical Trump. I think we've all gotten to know him as a country and none of this should be surprising," said one former White House official.
Trump allies downplayed the significance of the president's statements, while stating there was no reason for him to be fixated on a recession next year.
While acknowledging there are some troubling economic signs, the former White House official said there are also plenty of positive signals from the economy, such as new jobless claims released Thursday and data last month showing jobs were rebounding in the manufacturing sector.
"Everywhere you look there's positive signs, there's negative signs. It's not blaring red and it's not blaring green either," the former White House official said.
The White House also stressed the strength of the economy in a briefing for reporters ahead of the president's trip to France for a Group of Seven meeting. Trump leaves for the summit on Saturday morning.
"You will really hear the president hit home the message of the pro-jobs, pro-growth economic agenda," a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.
The administration is also stressing that the U.S. economy is stronger than the economy in Europe and in other countries.
"You can contrast this to what is happening in Europe where growth is effectively flat," the administration official said.
Trump's tumultuous week has led to questions about what some have interpreted as erratic behavior.
The New York Times on Thursday reported that some former Trump officials were increasingly worried about his behavior. They suggested to the Times that it was related to rising pressure on the president over the economy and his own election.
Numerous economic reports over the last two weeks have suggested the possibility of a recession next year is growing more likely. At the same time, there have been a flurry of new polls showing Trump being defeated in head-to-head matchups against various Democratic presidential candidates.
Those polls mean little nearly 15 months before the election, but the idea that they are weighing on Trump - who lashed out at a Fox News poll on Sunday - has been growing.
In the last few days, Trump has staked out opposing positions on enacting stronger background checks for guns and backtracked on whether he's considering some type of tax cut to boost the economy.
The president first told reporters he had an "appetite" for background checks before later warning such legislation could be a "slippery slope" to confiscating firearms. He later said he was not looking at pursuing a payroll tax cut, walking back his position from 24 hours earlier.
"He has his deliberations out in public," another former White House official said. "He's not somebody who waits until he comes to a final conclusion. He's willing to say what he's thinking when he's thinking it, and his mind will often change. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser, argued that this week - a particularly whiplash-inducing one even by Trump standards - won't matter much to voters in the long run, and suggested some tune out the constant barrage of presidential news because they find it exhausting.
But Trump's decision to cancel a planned state visit to Denmark after that country's prime minister rejected his offer of buying Greenland stunned foreign policy experts and political analysts and prompted broad scrutiny of the president, who was viewed by some as insulting a key NATO ally on the eve of the G-7 summit.
"This is the normal abnormal that we've experienced over the last few years, and every time it goes into a different direction - Greenland being the different direction - we're shocked and surprised by that," said GOP strategist Doug Heye.
Trump's mood often dictates gatherings like the G-7. If he is rattled by domestic affairs or still focused on fights beyond this weekend's agenda, it could lead to an acrimonious few days in France.
At last year's gathering in Canada, Trump was so incensed after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted Canada would respond in kind to U.S. tariffs that he refused to sign a joint communique with other world leaders.
Trump is already at odds with the heads of state in France, Germany and Canada on issues like trade and how to approach Iran, and his volatility in recent days could increase the odds of a confrontation.
Talk of the readmission of Russia to the G-7 presents another potentially thorny topic after Trump breathed new life into the idea this week. Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday that they expect the topic to be discussed.
But the weekend will likely be dominated by talk of the economy.
The president has used Germany and other European nations to plead his case for why the Federal Reserve should lower interest rates in the U.S. But the German economy is contracting while he argues the U.S. outlook remains strong.
Trump has sought to diminish speculation the U.S. economy is headed for trouble because of his trade war with China and deflected blame to other targets, including the media and the Federal Reserve, which he accused of raising interest rates "too fast, too furious."
Trump and his aides have accused the media of overhyping speculation about the direction of the economy in order to damage his reelection prospects.
"The fake news, of which many of you are members, is trying to convince the public to have a recession," Trump told reporters during Wednesday's combative news conference. "The United States is doing phenomenally well. But one thing I have to do is economically take on China because China has been ripping us off for many years."
"Somebody had to do it," he added later. "I am the chosen one."