Domenico Montanaro

The White House says President Trump fired James Comey because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The president, who campaigned before crowds that chanted, "Lock her up," is telling the American people that he summarily fired the FBI director, by letter, because he went outside Department of Justice protocols in speaking out about the Clinton investigation months ago.

It was like two different hearings in one.

Democrats quizzed former Obama administration officials on Russia, how former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn had been "compromised" and how the White House officials conducted themselves when confronted with the information.

Republicans wanted to know how the information got out in the first place.

It was striking watching the two distinct focuses on a topic — national security — that shouldn't be so hotly partisan.

And the data bear out the different approaches.

There are way too many signs that the 2020 election is already beginning.

Consider:

-Here's a crazy stat: 129 people have already filed to run for president in 2020, as of Friday afternoon. In fairness, in 2016, more than 1,700 filed. But...

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Republicans finally got their health care bill.

After seven years of repeal-and-replace rhetoric against the Affordable Care Act, two presidential campaigns waged for and against it and a recent high-profile failure, House Republicans passed their bill.

The trouble is this bill is unlikely to ever become law — at least in its current iteration.

Updated at 12:54 p.m. ET

For President Trump, one thing is important: winning, or at least the appearance of it.

So when the media narrative started to become that he didn't get what he wanted out of a new spending bill that will keep the government open through September, Trump got upset. (That compromise bill is supposed to get a vote and is expected to pass the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.)

Trump's irritation manifested in hot — and somewhat contradictory — ways Tuesday.

President Trump just seems to have a thing for strongmen.

He invited the brutal Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House during a "very friendly" phone call Sunday. On Tuesday, Trump has another call — this one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The president went on a tweetstorm Thursday hyping the idea of a potential shutdown and blaming Democrats on a variety of issues:

But Congress isn't likely headed for a shutdown. It is likely to vote on a spending measure Thursday or Friday that would keep the government open for another week. And negotiators are working on a plan to fund the government for the rest of the year.

So what's going on?

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees have endorsed the idea of a short-term spending bill to keep the government open while budget negotiations continue.

The stop-gap spending measure, introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, would put off the deadline to May 5.

Updated 9:45 a.m. ET

The White House is banging the drums that President Trump is doing something big again ahead of his 100th day in office — unveiling a tax "plan."

"This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country," Trump's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at a panel Wednesday morning.

Let's get this out of the way: health care and border-wall funding are probably not happening this week.

There isn't even a bill written for health care, and while conservatives like the draft language that's circulating, moderates don't.

It's the same problem Republicans have had from the beginning — appeal to conservatives, lose the moderates; appeal to moderates, lose the conservatives.

It's like a water balloon — no matter which end you push on, it still pops.

With any new president, there's a learning curve. But for President Trump, it's been steeper than others.

"Mount Everest" is how Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, described it ahead of Trump's 100th day in office, which is coming up Saturday, April 29. "It's as steep as they come and ice-covered, and he didn't bring very many knowledgeable Sherpas with him."

If you thought it was odd that a special election in the Atlanta suburbs got so much national attention, you haven't seen anything yet.

So far, much of the focus has been on Democrat Jon Ossoff — and with good reason. The Democratic base rallied around him and made the election a referendum on President Trump.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

This is what a president can do with the bully pulpit:

It's Tax Day. And that means another reminder of the fact that President Trump has broken with tradition and not released his tax returns.

For someone who speaks with as much conviction as President Trump, he sure has a way of changing positions with an equal level of certitude.

Reporters ask lots of pesky questions during campaigns for a reason: to find out how someone would govern.

Most candidates right and left comply with the public interest in what they would do by putting out policy papers and laying out facts and figures, numbers and details.

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