As ex-aides spill the beans and multiple house committees take a close look at Donald Trump’s myriad dealings, the president starts to feel the heat
By Kenneth Tiven
What President Donald Trump considers a good week politically is harder to find since the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in January. By the start of March, only a truly friendly audience immune to serious issues could provide the feedback he constantly craves.
In February, after his 35-day partial government shutdown failed to deliver the desired funding for a border wall, Trump bizarrely declared the Mexican border a national emergency. This allowed him to reapportion existing government funds, but law suits were immediately filed putting that in question. A resolution by the Democrats who control the House has revoked the emergency and the Senate may concur. At least three Republican senators are expected to give Democrats there a thin majority in the rebuke, which Trump can veto. But his ego is something else.
Let us remember that Trump used a dubious medical excuse to avoid the draft and escape being sent to fight in Vietnam 50 years ago as an American soldier. In Vietnam for a second meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un recently, the situation was reversed: verbal bullets at home as Michael Cohen, his long-time personal lawyer, testified before a Congressional committee, calling Trump “a conman and a cheat….Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great….”
Low global expectations for results from the Kim meeting were met. The North Koreans wanted sanctions lifted first, then would talk about nuclear issues. Trump said no, cancelled the second day and flew back to Washington, where a friendlier gathering awaited.
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a gathering of hundreds of the most devout Conservatives who believe every Democrat is a socialist traitor to America. They cheer, chant and clap at anything the president says. That pumped up Trump. He tossed off promises on many issues, saying, “You know I’m totally off script right now.” On several occasions he remarked that he “gets no credit” for what he has accomplished.
It was two hours of stand-up in the style of a political comedy show, but the pressure was obvious:
- Claimed to always sit with the pilots when they land Air Force One.
- Stated that he has good eyesight.
- Disagreed with reporters that people left his two-hour rambling speech before he was done, although video shows people leaving in the final minutes while he was still speaking.
- Asserted that “We have people in Congress that hate our country.”
- Disputed government statistics showing that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, calling the data “false propaganda” but citing no evidence to support his claim.
- Criticised the press for taking his “joke” seriously when he asked Russia to probe the Clinton emails.
- Described the Mueller special counsel probe as, “All of a sudden, they are trying to take you out with bullshit.” Enthusiastic applause followed.
A new issue unlikely to go away is the allegation that Trump ordered top security clearance for his son-in-law and personal assistant, Jared Kushner, despite objection from security agencies. Multiple House committees are bent on forcing people from Trump’s company to testify. The pressure will not ease.
—The writer has worked at The Washington Post, NBC, ABC and CNN. He also consults for Indian channels