Ron Elving

President Trump plans a European trip next week for a gathering of representatives of the world's largest economies — including those of allies such as Britain, Japan and Germany, and rivals such as China and Russia.

Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer held an on-camera briefing at the White House Tuesday, his first in eight days and possibly his last. At least he refused to say it wasn't.

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Ordinary people often get into legal trouble in response to desperate circumstances. Politicians, however, seem to make the worst trouble for themselves when they are riding high and carrying all before them.

Thus the most famous political scandals of U.S. history have happened not when presidents or members of Congress had their backs to the wall but when their sails were filled with a favorable wind.

Until now, all the controversy over President Trump, his associates and their various connections with various Russians has been billows of smoke without a visible fire.

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We're going to get some historical context now to this surprising development today. And to do that, we have NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Hello there, Ron.

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

In the Rose Garden last week President Trump and the House Republican leadership celebrated their vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as though it had actually repealed and replaced the 2010 law colloquially known as Obamacare.

It had not, of course. Several more giant steps remain in the process. And more than a few of these same Republicans may well be grateful.

President Trump has a flair — perhaps a genius — for counter-programming, which can be described as the art of upstaging your rivals just when they think they're about to have their spotlight moment.

He did it countless times as a candidate, eclipsing all the other Republican contenders and the Democrats as well. He demonstrated his prowess again on the 100th day of his presidency, rallying a blue-collar crowd in Pennsylvania and shunning the annual black-tie White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

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Ever since election night last November, millions in America and around the world have wondered what happened to Hillary Clinton, who was widely expected to become the first female president of the United States.

In fact, nearly everyone in the business of politics thought she would win, including many of Trump's own people.

So how did she lose?

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