SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
If you've been following the story of the volcano that's been spewing lava all week, don't worry. We've been following the evolving story around the Stormy Daniels payment, too. Rudolph Giuliani and the president spent much of the week alternating between attaboying (ph) each other and contradicting each other. NPRs Ron Elving joins us now. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Happy Cinco de Mayo, Scott.
SIMON: And happy Cinco de Mayo to you, too, my friend. Mr. Giuliani joined the president's legal team a little over two weeks ago, made quite an impression so far, hasn't he?
ELVING: Yes, we've had several days now of the Trump and Rudy show. The subject being, of course, the alleged hush money for the alleged affair. Money paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. The news this week was the world-renowned former mayor of New York touring various Fox News shows, also appearing in other media, claiming at one point that the payment to Stormy Daniels by attorney Michael Cohen couldn't be an illegal campaign contribution because it was reimbursed by President Trump.
The president seemed to confirm that on Twitter, and then he turned around completely, and the two men began walking it back because it totally contradicted the version the president had been telling for many weeks now and could lead to a variety of other problems, both legal and otherwise.
SIMON: And yet, at the same time, there is a story the administration certainly should be very eager to talk about, and that's unemployment has fallen below 4 percent.
ELVING: And the president is telling it, and he will be telling it because it's the lowest job rate - jobless rate since 2000, making it the lowest of this century, Scott, as the president likes to say. Now, unemployment was already down to 4.1 percent last fall, and some Obama people have been quick to point out that it had been over 10 percent in the economy that he inherited, so that was cut by more than half - down below 5 percent - while Obama was still president. And it's come down about another point since.
SIMON: During all of this, the president was warmly received at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas. And, I feel, because we cover the news and we have to note, this has been a year that has been notable for its mass shootings and the public's building reaction to them.
ELVING: That's right. But there was little talk of those shootings yesterday, although there were protesters who were, of course, talking about it outside. Inside, the president got a huge boost from a hugely enthusiastic crowd. You know, when Donald Trump won the White House, he did it largely by dominating the precincts where the NRA is most popular. And he remains as popular in those precincts even today.
SIMON: Ron, in the midst of a lot of this maelstrom, you spent some time reading John McCain's book this week. Tell us what he has to say.
ELVING: It is a fitting conclusion to the series of memoirs from this senator and presidential candidate. He salutes the military code of honor that meant so much to him in his life. And he gives a valedictory to the idea of America that he loved and felt that he personally personified. He owns his mistakes, he explains his decisions. But even though he never got to be president, he looks back with very little regret and a great deal of personal dignity.
SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, senior political editor and correspondent. Thanks so much for being with us, Ron.
ELVING: Thank you, Scott
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