Ron Elving

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This was to have been the week when President Trump turned his fledgling presidency around, setting a course for success and letting the wind fill its sails at last.

Instead, it became his worst week to date, ending with the ship becalmed and its crew in disarray. After other controversies had spoiled the weather, the Republicans proved unable to muster the votes to pass their repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill in the House. The president and Speaker Paul Ryan had to call off the vote scheduled on the floor — not once but twice.

In a hearing that stretched through nearly 12 hours Tuesday, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch took a long step toward Senate confirmation.

Barring an utterly unforeseen reversal when the questioning resumes Wednesday, observers expect Judiciary Committee approval along party lines on April 3 and a similar win on the Senate floor.

Twenty senators took turns asking questions for half an hour each. The Republicans tried to get the country to share their affinity for the nominee. The Democrats tried to tie him to President Trump.

Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET

Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was the occasion for his most presidential performance to date, balancing a reprise of his angry campaign themes with a recitation of hopes and dreams for the nation.

It was his most successful, if not his first, effort at assuming the public persona and personal demeanor associated with his new office. He stuck to the script on his teleprompter, spoke graciously to individuals in the audience and refrained from attacks on critics, rivals or adversaries.

When new presidents address Congress for the first time, they can scarcely be said to be making a first impression. In recent years, even the youngest presidents have become familiar to everyone in the country via their careers, their campaigns and the constant attention of the media.

Yet there remains a special quality to the moment when a new president first enters the House chamber, shaking hands and making his way to the speaker's rostrum, turning finally to look out at the leading figures of the entire federal power structure — all in one place and staring back at him.

On Tuesday night, President Trump will address a joint session of the Congress for the first time, laying out his case for making the agenda of his campaign the law of the land.

He will talk about controlling immigration, cutting taxes, abolishing regulations, repealing the Affordable Care Act, pulling out of multinational trade agreements and spending more on defense and homeland security. He may also talk about his disdain for much of the news media and bring up social issues such as abortion.

Americans have complained for years about presidential campaigns that start too early and last too long.

Now, they are confronted with one that refuses to end — even after reaching the White House.

There may never be a "last word" written or spoken about President Trump's 77-minute barrage in the East Room Thursday, but the first word from many was: "Wow."

President Trump and his inner circle have reached their first crisis with the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, but the crisis extends well beyond one empty chair in one critical moment.

Vice President Pence has done something that his predecessor, Joe Biden, did not do even once in his eight years in the same office.

He cast a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate.

First, we had a candidate and a campaign like no other, then an election and transition like no other. We should have expected President Trump's first two weeks in office to be just as dizzying as they have been.

Yet Trump lovers and haters alike have stood by, mouths agape. Editorialists have worn out the words "whirlwind" and "firehose," just as they had recently burned through "unprecedented."

After a dozen tumultuous days in the White House, President Trump on Tuesday night found a way to unite his party, delight his most ardent supporters and change the storyline on his nascent presidency in a single stroke.

It wasn't magic that did it, it was the choice of Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gorsuch is now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Court, which sits in Colorado, his home state. Gorsuch began his service at that powerful level of the federal judiciary in 2006, at age 39.

Donald Trump had already emerged as the likely presidential nominee of the Republican Party back in April when he gave a foreign policy speech pledging that "America First" would be "the major and overriding theme of my administration."

Among the unusual elements of President-elect Donald Trump's Wednesday news conference was a 15-minute interlude in which an attorney took the podium and described Trump's plan to address potential conflicts of interest between his businesses and the responsibilities of his office.

The attorney, Sheri Dillon, outlined an arrangement by which Trump would turn over "total control" of his worldwide business interests to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, with whom he would not communicate about the family business.

President-elect Donald Trump continues to dispute the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia used computer hacking to interfere in the 2016 elections. He does so even though other Republican leaders and analysts perceive a serious cyberattack that demands retaliation.

If he persists in this posture, Trump may wish to rely on the precedent of previous presidents who entered the White House at odds with their own parties over a major issue in foreign relations.

But can he find one?

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