Sources: Trump touts accomplishments but privately, controversies sour his mood

The president is touting the economy and a pledge kept by North Korea but multiple controversies brew behind the scenes. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.

Posted: Jul 29, 2018 11:23 AM
Updated: Jul 29, 2018 11:25 AM

You won't be surprised to hear that President Donald Trump raved about the news on the economy Friday. The news was good, all right. Growth was 4.1% in the last quarter, a strong number, though nothing near the masterpiece of economic management Trump claimed to have achieved.

What he called "an economic turnaround of HISTORIC proportions" (his caps) was nothing of the sort. The economy was growing when Trump took office, and 4.1% growth is far from unprecedented. The figure was exceeded five times under Obama.

Still, it was positive news to cap a week that, while still crowded with distressing news, came loaded with reasons for optimism -- for anyone but Donald Trump.

For those of us who believe that Trump's policies present a tangible threat to democracy, that he is deliberately undercutting the alliances that underpin not only America's influence but the appeal and strength of liberal democratic principles around the world, the week flashed glimmers of light over the horizon.

Here are some:

Trump backed off some of his most alarming decisions ...

A week ago, Trump shocked his own security chiefs with an announcement that he had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House. With questions still raging -- even now -- about what transpired in the first meeting in Helsinki, Finland, reaction was scathing. Trump backtracked. National security adviser John Bolton, in an unseemly, politicized statement, announced Trump was postponing the meeting until "after the Russia witch hunt" ends, presumably next year.

Friday, Putin announced he invited Trump to Moscow. The only thing more troubling than Putin in Washington is Trump in Moscow, where Putin would have even more control. But even a postponement is good news.

... and Trump backed off on EU trade and claimed victory

Trump also folded (at least for now) on his trade war with the European Union. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly used colorful flash cards with Trump to help reach a ceasefire. Wednesday, Trump held a bombastic presser in the White House Rose Garden, usually reserved for major events, declaring "We had a big day. Very big!"

The sides agreed to negotiate toward zero tariffs, zero subsidies. It was largely a return to Obama-era policies. But don't tell him that. This was a welcome relaxation of hostilities with America's closest friends, the same ones Trump recently called foes. The war appears to be over for the moment, and the two leaders sealed it all with a kiss. Seriously.

The legislative branch came to life

One of the most disturbing spectacles of the Trump era has been the crumbling of the Congressional spine. This week, however, in the wake of the President's perplexing assaults on US allies, of his denial of Russia's hacking of the US election and his seeming willingness to allow Russian security forces to interrogate US officials, there were signs that the spines of Republicans in Congress may just be reconstituting. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took bipartisan fire in the Senate, although the hottest GOP salvos came from retiring members.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker blasted the administration, telling Pompeo that members of Congress are "filled with serious doubts about the White House and its conduct of American foreign policy," and Trump's pattern of "placating" adversaries such as North Korea and Russia, reaching secret deals and "antagonizing" US allies.

Pompeo walked a quivering tightrope, seeking to reassure the country without upsetting his boss. He reversed some of Trump's most egregious equivocations and omissions, saying the administration rejects Russia's invasion of Ukraine and accepts the intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections.

Trump discovered election hacking

Speaking of Russia's hacking, the President came up with a novel approach to the matter that has tangled him up in double-negatives and contradictory statements, declaring himself "very concerned" that Russia will hack the 2018 elections -- to help the Democrats. Even ignoring the preposterous claim, it is good that Trump now has an excuse to bend under the pressure and allow authorities to work at preventing a new attack.

Trump called a high-level meeting on election security amid growing evidence of the urgency of the problem. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, whose seat -- and control of the Senate -- is in play, alleged that the Russians attempted to hack her office computers. And the outcome of a gubernatorial election in Georgia, a state notorious for lax election-system security and known to have been targeted by the Russians, also raised concerns. So, it was moderately comforting to see Trump for a moment not denying there is a problem.

The partisan press finds some principles

Also comforting was the appearance of principled unity among the White House press corps. When the White House banned CNN's Kaitlan Collins from covering a Trump event because it didn't like her questions, the White House Correspondents Association protested. Just as importantly, the usually-partisan Fox News and several of its stars also protested, speaking in solidarity "for the right to full access ... as part of a free and unfettered press." In a democracy, the White House was told, it doesn't get to choose what questions it faces or who asks them.

Michael Cohen spills

The causes for optimism came also from one unexpected place. The man who said he would take a bullet for Trump, his fixer, Michael Cohen, appears to have decided he doesn't want to go to jail to defend one who has reportedly humiliated him over the years. It seemed a turning point in the investigation and an opportunity for Americans to finally learn the truth about how Trump was elected.

All in all, not a bad week.

Huntsville
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 42°
Florence
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Fayetteville
Few Clouds
41° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Decatur
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Scottsboro
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 41°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 347972

Reported Deaths: 4466
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby46176651
Davidson40984412
Knox17878142
Rutherford17025154
Hamilton16137149
Williamson1077979
Sumner9248135
Wilson708477
Out of TN680251
Montgomery627183
Sullivan618896
Putnam575282
Washington5667102
Maury560266
Blount525859
Madison5164108
Bradley493235
Sevier471231
Unassigned433722
Robertson360451
Tipton353738
Hamblen336059
Dyer312350
Gibson308365
Greene290371
Anderson276528
Dickson276333
Coffee268141
Bedford259530
Carter259355
Obion255449
Lawrence253533
Cumberland245335
McMinn235855
Warren227818
Roane223828
Hardeman221837
Loudon220718
Jefferson219032
Fayette216038
Weakley209636
Monroe203944
Lauderdale200722
Franklin196133
Trousdale190012
Hawkins184734
Wayne181610
Henderson179433
Macon177728
Hardin173425
White168618
Marshall166720
Carroll165534
Haywood160030
Rhea158330
Cocke156130
Overton151235
Cheatham150816
Campbell150023
Lincoln149414
Henry146317
Johnson139621
Smith139419
Giles138546
McNairy138133
Fentress118120
Lake11545
Bledsoe11445
Hickman113018
Crockett112226
DeKalb109922
Marion105419
Chester100020
Scott9967
Grainger93915
Decatur92413
Unicoi81026
Claiborne7779
Benton77215
Grundy74914
Lewis72714
Cannon7183
Union7005
Morgan6886
Jackson66910
Humphreys6687
Polk64115
Houston57920
Stewart57214
Clay53318
Sequatchie5025
Perry46521
Meigs46012
Moore3773
Pickett37613
Van Buren3462
Hancock1503

Community Events