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Week In Politics


Let's talk more about events of the week with NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving, who joins us this week from Milwaukee. Ron, thanks for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Do you think President Trump was essentially trying to back off and ease tensions with Iran this week?

ELVING: Scott, let's begin by saying there was relief, widespread and bipartisan, when the president pulled back instead of pulling the trigger. But the larger confrontation he's created here still has very few avenues for escape. It's possible this show of last-minute restraint may make renewed negotiations possible, but it could also heighten the tension to the point where the Iranians cannot come to the table. They have complicated domestic politics to deal with, just as we do. So the moment of hesitation on the president's part could ultimately produce an even greater degree of anxiety, an even more disastrous hour of reckoning.

SIMON: A number of people have questioned parts of the president's account, especially a statement that he wasn't given or asked for - whatever it was - an estimate of casualties until the strikes had almost begun.

ELVING: You know, that question really does bother people. The president said he called off the attack with just 10 minutes left to go, and he says he did it because 150 lives would be lost. But what had he thought about that before? Did he think he could order airstrikes and produce no casualties? That may be the plotline on a TV reality show, but it's not the world the real military operates in. It seems more likely he was briefed on casualties much earlier and decided to proceed, and then he changed his mind.

SIMON: What do you make of the president essentially announcing in advance an ICE operation to round up thousands of immigrants on Sunday who've lost their asylum appeals?

ELVING: Well, the president said he was going to begin rounding up millions of immigrants who were in this country and not legally. In his mind, there may be millions whom he would deport if he could, but that's not what's happening right now. This is a focus on thousands. And these are families in 10 cities who are recent migrants, released pending court dates, and who have not shown up for those court dates. And final deportation orders have been issued against them.

Now, Mark Morgan, who's the acting director of ICE, told NPR's John Burnett that this is simply law enforcement. But of course, the language of this Trump tweet is like what you heard at Trump's rally on Tuesday night in announcing his new campaign for a second term. And the idea of this tweet and this policy and that language is to keep the spirit and message of those rallies alive.

SIMON: And I have to ask you this this week. The White House denies the allegations of a woman who now joins more than a dozen others in coming forward to say she was one sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. The president issued a long statement, saying, quote, "I've never met this person in my life."

ELVING: This is going to be another in the long list of stories that the president simply denies that, yet, one looks at and says, how can all of these people have imagined they had this contact with the president? - that they had this horrific experience with the man long before he was actually president. And I think people will have to reach their own conclusions.

We've seen many cases how the president has actually spent money to silence some of these stories. In this particular instance, the president - already, of course, now being president and much time having passed - feels he can simply deny it. And it is probably not going to change a great number of minds about Donald Trump and his behavior towards women.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving. Thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.