An unbelievable week -- or just another week in Trump world

The marvel of Donald Trump's presidency is not that so many things happen that stretch the limits of credulity....

Posted: Apr 27, 2018 12:00 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 12:00 PM

The marvel of Donald Trump's presidency is not that so many things happen that stretch the limits of credulity.

It's that the scandals, presidential outbursts, shattered conventions, executive branch muscle-flexing, foreign policy 180s and legal quagmires seem to have no discernible political impact.

In any other presidency, a Cabinet secretary being skewered on Capitol Hill over massive ethics questions -- such as Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt -- or a nominee such as White House physician Ronny Jackson dropping out of consideration as Veterans Affairs secretary would represent major political crises.

Photos like those released Thursday of CIA chief turned new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting the world's most reclusive leader Kim Jong Un would create news shockwaves that would rumble for weeks.

And if any other President had called up a morning news show and unspooled a stream of anger down the phone for half an hour, in a way that may have deepened his legal exposure after the FBI raid on his lawyer Michael Cohen, he would drive his White House close to a cliff edge.

In the Trump administration, it's just another day.

Ripple effect, or not

Given that expectations of Trump's presidency are cemented 15 months into his term, it's likely that none of the turbulence of the last few days -- extreme even by Trump's standards -- will have an immediate political consequence.

Polls show that the President moves in a range between the high mid-30% range and the low to mid-40% territory.

The most recent poll of Trump's approval ratings is by Fox News and shows his number at 44%. In other latest surveys, Quinnipiac puts Trump at 39%, ABC has him at 40% and CNN has the President at 42%.

When Trump dips and then picks up the pace in polls, it tends to reflect a drift of softer Republican voters away and back to him -- rather than a realignment of wider sentiment in the electorate.

The fact that Trump's floor remains just below 40% -- while likely insufficient to stave off heavy midterm election losses or fears among his team about his re-election hopes is still remarkable.

It speaks to the solidity of his legendary political base, which he has taken pains to preserve and means that his presidency remains viable despite the torrent of logic defying escapades that he engineers every week.

So far, the bottom has not fallen out. He's not experienced the kind of slide for instance that afflicted George W. Bush a year into his second term after the botched handling of Hurricane Katrina and the bloody occupation of Iraq, which at one point would send him down to Gallup approval rating low of 25%.

'Not normal'

While Trump seems to be defying political gravity, some prominent critics and observers are beginning to worry about longer term damage -- and not to the President's own political standing.

They warn that what is unfolding is potentially damaging to America's position overseas and the institutions that underpin its democratic system at home.

James Comey, the fired FBI chief who has emerged almost as an amateur shrink with his character sketches of the President on his book tour, warned that the abnormality of Trump must not be allowed to become a new normal.

In a CNN town hall event on Thursday Comey was asked by Anderson Cooper about his reaction when he saw Trump tweeting that he should be in jail.

He admitted to "a shrug. Like, 'Oh, there he goes again,'" Comey said.

"And then I catch myself, because I hope you're not shrugging, because that's numb to something that is not OK, that is not normal," he continued. "And Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone should be in jail, they will understand that it's not normal."

Comey is not the only person to notice the chaos in Washington.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who used a state visit to Washington to intensify his charm offensive with the President, remarked on Wednesday night that dizzying US foreign policy U-turns were "insane," the Guardian reported.

'Lots of people winced'

There were signs on Thursday that some of Trump's aides in the White House believe that the new political reality -- where none of Trump's antics appear to hurt him -- can hold for ever, after his tirade on "Fox and Friends" which left even the show's friendly anchors looking puzzled.

"Lots of people winced," CNN's Jim Acosta quoted one official as saying when asked about Trump's unleashed performance, which showed why the President's lawyers and political team try to keep him under wraps.

At one point, Trump appeared to be signaling that he wanted to conduct a purge of his own Justice Department -- but couldn't do so because of the Russia investigation.

"I think you'll understand this, I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what's going on is a disgrace," Trump said.

Given that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, the President's own admission that he would like to strong arm top US law enforcement agencies may be unwise.

Trump may also have deepened his legal exposure regarding Cohen.

He admitted on Fox for the first time that his lawyer had acted for him in the case of porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 before the election to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

If there are issues with the payment, the President could now find himself being drawn deeper into the legal mess.

Trump also caused a problem for his legal team, which is fighting to convince a federal judge that papers seized from Cohen by the FBI should be covered by attorney client privilege.

The President told "Fox and Friends" that the percentage of his legal work entrusted to Cohen was a "a tiny, tiny little fraction."

Hours later, federal prosecutors said that material obtained by the FBI -- believed to include records of the Trump Organization -- is "unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents," using the President's own words to undermine his legal arguments.

Such developments explain why Trump's legal and political supporters fear the consequences if the President goes anywhere near an interview with Mueller.

Article Comments

69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
73° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY Temperatures



Community Events