Saturday, August 26, 2017
Trump’s Dumps Likely To Backfire
A protester confronts a line of riot police who had
earlier used tear gas to disperse a crowd outside an
Aug. 22 Trump campaign-style rally in Phoenix.
Matthew Lively, The Republic | azcentral.com
President Keeps Taunting Lawmakers He Should Be Courting
Donald Trump, the most unpopular president in American history, helicoptered off to Camp David for the weekend leaving behind a fresh array of divisive, distracting “news dumps,” perhaps in hope they would fade into the background of the potentially more important concern over the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana. Although hardly a day has passed since Jan. 20 that Trump has not controlled headlines, the need for clearheaded focus on the fate of the nation becomes more urgent within the coming week, ahead of the post-Labor Day return of Congress on Sept. 5.
As Category 4 Harvey, the first hurricane to make landfall in more than a decade zeroed in on Texas (before being downgraded overnight to a tropical storm), Trump's White House applied what has become a classic Washington tradition: the Friday news dump:
• An executive order to the Department of Defense to implement a ban on transgender servicemembers.
• An official pardon of 85-year-old convicted serial human rights abuser Joe Arpaio of Arizona.
• Firing discredited and utterly unqualified anti-Muslim “adviser” and former Fox News talking head Sebastian Gorka.
There were also reports that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team have issued subpoenas for officials with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to testify to a grand jury, and North Korea apparently resumed firing long-range missiles. If the president hoped the storylines he personally created would be swallowed up in the storm, he didn’t count on the quick response from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who slammed the news dump as "so sad, so weak."
"As millions of people in TX and LA are prepping for the hurricane, the President is using the cover of the storm to pardon a man who violated a court's order to stop discriminating against Latinos and ban courageous transgender men and women from serving our nation's Armed Forces," Schumer wrote in a series of tweets. "The only reason to do these right now is to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to avoid scrutiny."
Even before the latest hits, Trump had set the stage for what is expected to be a rough time on Capitol Hill after a flurry of insulting tweets and comments about key members of his own party, threatening a government shutdown over funding for his “great wall” along the border with Mexico at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix, and in random tweets, in which he took potshots at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc). Trump accused both of botching efforts so far to increase the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown that could lead to a federal default on government obligations this fall. The president also is tangling with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has expressed doubt about Trump's competence and stability. Trump crowded still more lies into his Arizona rally ramblings, including a threefold exaggeration of the size of his audience.
So far, Trump has avoided any real involvement in spelling out his legislative wishes regarding healthcare, tax reform, the federal budget and the imminent prospect of federal default. Nor has he defined how he expects Congress to pay for his long-promised wall, which members on both sides of the aisle insist is a nonstarter issue. Top White House aides are pushing Trump to protect “dreamers,” young people brought into the country illegally as children – and then use the issue as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the situation. Congressional Democrats flatly insist there will be no such deal.
Since 2015, the Treasury Department has used emergency measures to delay a default. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he will run out of options on Sept. 29, meaning the Treasury Department could miss a payment if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling in time. Although McConnell and Ryan have pledged there will be no default, they haven’t detailed how they intend to fulfill that promise.
Trump is also vocal about frustrations over the failure of Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which he calls a disaster, and continues to tweet complaints that Republicans in Congress haven’t worked hard enough to protect him from various investigations into possible collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia to influence the election. He has threatened to support GOP primary challengers against Republican legislators who defy or criticize him, among them Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona).
Trump also remains deeply frustrated that legislators from both parties say he still has not been strong and clear enough in his condemnation of white supremacists following the deadly rally in Charlottesville, VA, earlier this month. After business executives resigned from two White House advisory councils because of Trump’s tepid response to the violence in Charlottesville, Trump disbanded both.
Most Disliked President Ever
In the Saturday, Aug. 26, edition of Newsweek, Tim Marcin wrote, “No president in the history of modern polling had an approval rating so poor at this point in his tenure, according to FiveThirtyEight's tracker, though Gerald Ford was quite close. His approval rating was 37.4 percent on day 218 of his presidency, just 0.2 percentage points better than Trump's on Friday. It's worth noting that Ford's popularity plummeted after he pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace following the Watergate scandal. It was a widely condemned move at the time, but perceptions have since shifted and it is now largely seen as a brave decision that helped the country heal.”
The CNN report on Trump’s “Friday news dump” is here.
The NBC News report of federal grand jury subpoenas for Trump-related officials is here.
The NPR report on renewed North Korean missile launches is here.
The U.S. News & World Report summary of Trump’s feud with members of Congress is here.
The Washington Post report on legislative priorities looming in September is here.
The MSNBC report on a sought-after trade of protection for qualified children of undocumented immigrants for funding for a border wall and other immigration reform is here.
Newsweek reports “Polls Show Trump, the Least Popular President Ever, Is Seeing His Approval Rating Sink to an All-Time Low,” here.
Posted by Ron Rhodes at 12:35 PM