Friday, February 10, 2017
Thursday February 10th. WildestMost Chaotic Day of#OyVeyDonaldTrump as President yet highlighted the threat Trump’s unorthodox behaviour poses to his own agenda.The Worst has yet to come. #AmericaHangsItsHeadInShame
WASHINGTON—There was a time, way back in the Republican primary, when Donald Trump promised he would be a whole different man as he approached the White House, “so presidential you will be so bored.”
He hasn’t changed at all. That is now causing him problems.
Thursday was the wildest day of Trump’s three-week-old administration, a dawn-through-dark newsquake that offered hours of proof that the unorthodox, instinctive president was delivering on his promise to reject the old political conventions. It also highlighted the threat Trump’s shoot-first, act-second, maybe-acquire-facts-eventually style poses to his own agenda.
Hold the impeachment talk: Trump’s presidency is nowhere near a breakdown. His early acts have been overwhelmingly popular with Republican voters. Republican legislators, who control both houses of Congress, show no sign of abandoning him. Even Thursday, he got things done.
The day, though, hinted at trouble ahead. Over the course of 18 hours, Trump suffered a major court defeat caused in part by his haste, quietly endorsed a key international policy he had suggested he was going to abandon, saw two of his controversial advisers accused of breaking the law, and contradicted the words of his own Supreme Court nominee — a procession of avoidable missteps caused largely by his essential Trumpiness.
Here’s what happened:
6:57 a.m. — Trump writes on Twitter, “Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?”
Trump had insulted, as a “so-called judge,” the Seattle judge who initially ruled against his ban on travel by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Gorsuch, the Supreme Court nominee he rolled out last week to the elation of conservatives, called that criticism “disheartening and demoralizing.” Blumenthal told reporters about this; Trump falsely claimed Blumenthal was being dishonest.
Suddenly, on account of Trump’s instinct to lash out at anybody who challenges him, what had been his smoothest move yet had turned into another spat.
7:50 a.m. — On Fox News, senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway says, while standing in the White House, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!”
A near-certain violation of federal ethics law, prompted by Trump himself.
On Wednesday, Trump had generated his own ethics uproar by blasting the retailer Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s brand. Conway’s supportive promo was so obviously inappropriate that House oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz, who has tried to avoid going after the president or his team, sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics requesting sanctions.
Kellyanne Conway was accused of ethics violations for promoting the Ivanka Trump products, like these shoes, on clearance at a New York department store. (DREW ANGERER)
8:26 a.m. — Trump writes on Twitter, “Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”
Trump’s first counterterrorism raid, in Yemen, resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and civilians including an 8-year-old American citizen, prompting more questions about his decision-making. McCain, a Vietnam War hero, told NBC he could not call the mission a success. Trump, unwilling to let slights slide or let errors fade, entered into yet another intraparty feud of questionable utility.
11:09 a.m. — Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is sworn in as attorney general.
A reminder that Trump is winning important battles even as he foments chaos. Sessions, a hard-line opponent of illegal immigration, was once denied a federal judgeship over allegations that he was racist against African-Americans. Over the fierce opposition of civil rights groups, Trump managed to make him America’s top law enforcement officer.
6:13 p.m. — The 9th Circuit appeals court rules 3-0 to uphold a temporary stoppage of Trump’s travel ban.
The legal battle over the ban will likely continue for weeks or months. But the 9th Circuit’s early decision made clear that the problem with Trump’s executive order may not be so much about what it does as how quickly and imprecisely Trump imposed it.
Trump wanted to act fast as a signal to voters that he was fulfilling his pledges. By and large, they applauded. But he denied due process to the people affected by the ban, disregarded the experts who would likely have flagged issues with his text, and then refused to fix those issues when they were belatedly identified. All three decisions came back to haunt him with the court.
9:30 p.m. — The Washington Post releases a story revealing that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office.
Flynn had denied that he had ever talked about sanctions with the ambassador prior to Trump taking office, which would be possibly illegal and likely improper. Vice-President Mike Pence had backed him up on television. According to the Post, whose account was soon confirmed by the New York Times and other outlets, they were not telling the truth.
Trump’s appointment of the mercurial Flynn, a fiery and conspiratorial campaign loyalist, made even Republican national-security professionals nervous. The Thursday stories corroborated their concerns about the president’s judgment.
U.S. national security advisor Michael Flynn had vehemently denied he had ever discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. Reports released on Thursday suggest he did. (ANDREW HARRER)
11:04 p.m. — In a news release, the White House announces that “President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our ‘one China’ policy.”
Trump had infuriated China in December by musing on television about abandoning the U.S. commitment to the “One China” policy, under which Taiwan is considered a part of China, unless he could “make a deal” to gain some new benefit for Americans. His supporters, though, hailed his bold willingness to challenge the status quo.
So much for that. After raising global alarm without any apparent deep thought, the self-proclaimed master negotiator had backed down without a peep.