This week in Trump’s America Australia plays a particular diplomatic card
What a week.
A potential trade war with allies, possible peace with an old foe, a spat with a porn star and more high-level resignations.
Just the usual.
Greetings from the skies somewhere over America.
Here are just some of the headlines over the past few days:
President Donald Trump seems determined to trigger a trade war through tariffs on steel and aluminium imports despite the fact even those within his own party have urged him not to.
The door remains ajar for a few countries, including Australia, to get an exemption:
Behind the scenes, Australian officials put on a "full court press" trying to secure that special mates' deal.
Once again, Greg Norman has emerged as Australia's diplomatic Trump card.
A personal friend of the President, The Shark's signature was one of six affixed to the bottom of a letter urging the President to reverse course on tariffs:
That effort led to the President singling out Australia as one nation that may escape the trade penalty.
"We have other countries that are very much involved with us on trade but also on military and working together with military and we will be making a decision as to who they are," Mr Trump said.
"We have a very close relationship with Australia, we have a trade surplus with Australia, a great country, a long-term partner. We will be doing something with them."
(Cue Bluescope Steel breathing out for the first time in some days.)
The whole trade debate precipitated the departure of former Goldman Sachs CEO and National Economic Adviser Gary Cohn.
Mr Cohn was Wall Street's best friend in the Trump Administration — as well as being a Democrat.
That said, it must be noted that the President's position on free trade is WAY outside Republican doctrine as well.
Mr Cohn had recently been touted as a possible replacement for chief of staff John Kelly.
In a Cabinet meeting Mr Trump thanked the "globalist" for his service:
And yet hours before his departure was announced, this:
Oh and here are the final credits on that, from VEEP:
By the numbers
Forty-three per cent. That's the turnover in staff within the Trump Administration, according to the Brookings Institute.
Is that all?
While trade wars abound, the prospect of a nuclear one has reduced — at least momentarily.
Are we edging towards peace on the Korean Peninsula?
Maybe we can't go that far, but after meetings between North and South Korea it emerged Kim Jong-un's regime would be open to putting down the weapons and engaging in talks with the US.
The President's response?
Other officials are more sceptical.
Meanwhile, in a case of curious timing, on the same day the US State Department slapped North Korea with more sanctions after deeming the country responsible for the murder of Mr Kim's estranged half-brother in Malaysia last year.
More on the international adversary front with Russia news now.
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to additional criminal charges as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
The New York Times is reporting the President himself has been talking to witnesses in the investigation.
However innocuous those discussions may have been, they run completely counter to what every adviser and lawyer has pleaded with the President to do: stay out of it.
The latest Trump adviser to have his life turned upside down by the Mueller investigation: Sam Nunberg.
The former adviser decided he wouldn't cooperate with a grand jury subpoena from the special counsel and then did the media rounds, weirdly.
Oh, and a Russian software developer with Kremlin links created an anti-Hillary video game just weeks before her 2016 election defeat.
It was called "Hilltendo" according to The Hill.
Speaking of upcoming elections. It has begun (sort of) in America again, with primaries taking place earlier this week in Texas.
Senator Ted Cruz will be up against Beto O'Rourke. Mr Cruz quickly went on an all out offensive, releasing this radio ad:
At the heart of the attack — Beto's real name is Robert and he goes by "Beto" to fit in.
While true: here's the rub:
Next week, there's a special election in Western Pennsylvania — an area where we spent substantial time in in 2016 and a place Mr Trump carried by 20 points.
In neighbouring West Virginia, a reformed Trump supporter (and paratrooper) is making a tilt for office too as a Democrat.
It might be a long shot, but it's revealing, given that Richard Ojeda cast his ballot for Mr Trump in 2016.
Finally, an adult movie star, who claims she had an affair with the President and was paid $130,000 to stay quiet about in the lead up to the election, refuses to fade from the limelight.
The latest: Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that "this case has already been won in arbitration" and referring questions to outside counsel.
But did the President know that she was paid hush money? Sanders wasn't aware whether he had.
Stormy Daniels sued the President earlier this week claiming he never signed the hush agreement, instead it was signed by the President's lawyer, Michael Cohen.
The alleged attempts to silence Stormy Daniels have led to increased scrutiny about the story, which has been floating around now for weeks.
It's also put conservative politicians in an uncomfortable position.
Culminating in this awkward moment:
Other stuff this week:
What I'm reading:
I've been in California and Utah, covering everything from the sexual harassment in Hollywood to the Oscars to gun reform over the last fortnight. It's been most illuminating.
Note that while I've been away from DC, Mr Trump has lost two more members of his administration.
Like I said, just the usual.