THE WEEK IN TRUMP
Raising Hell in Arizona: At a rally in Phoenix, Trump delivered an unscripted, crowd-pleasing oration, complaining that (for example) the media is unfairly critical of him. Much of the media reacted by being critical of him. One conservative observer tweeted, “the CNN panel: every one is in disbelief. upset. angry. Translation: mission accomplished.”
Afghanistan Mini-surge: Trump announced in vague terms a new Afghanistan policy that reportedly will send an additional 4,000 troops to the 16-year-old war. The once-again Bannon-run Breitbart.com accused Trump of a “flip-flop” that betrayed his “ ‘America First’ base.”
Donald vs. Mitch: The New York Times reported that Trump’s relationship with the Senate Majority Leader has deteriorated so much that the two men haven’t spoken in weeks.
Arpaio Pardon Pondered: In Phoenix Trump signaled, without explicitly saying, that he will pardon controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fierce opponent of illegal immigration and fierce proponent of birtherism. CNN reported that the White House had prepared the paperwork for the pardon.
THE WEEK IN TRUMP
Charlottesville: Hundreds of protestors, including Klan members, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, marched with tiki torches to protest removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. There were chants of “blood and soil,” “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, “antifa” counter-protesters clashed with the protesters—it’s unclear which side initiated the violence—and police declared the assembly unlawful. That afternoon, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19. His allies claimed the incident was triggered by counterprotestors’ descending on his car.
Trump reacts: Trump condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He was widely criticized for seeming to suggest moral equivalence between white supremacists and the counterprotesters, and multiple CEOs resigned from White House advisory councils, leading to the disbanding of those groups. Trump then said in a combative press conference that “not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” and that there were “very fine people on both sides.” He criticized the “alt-left” for violence at the rally.
After-effects: A crowd of protesters pulled down a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina. Arrests were made. An NBC/PBS News Hour/Marist poll found that 62 percent of American adults believe statues honoring confederate leaders should “remain as a historical symbol”.
Barcelona: A van driver in Barcelona killed 13 people. The attack, claimed by ISIS, prompted Trump to tweet: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” This is a reference to a false story about Pershing soaking bullets in pigs’ blood to put down an Islamic insurgency in the Philippines.
Bye-Bye Bannon: Friday saw the exodus of White House strategist Steve Bannon, who reportedly had incurred the enmity of such White House aides as Jared Kushner, John Kelly, and H.R. McMaster. Ironically, the departure of Bannon, long identified as an ethno-nationalist, came the week Trump was seen as speaking sympathetically of the white nationalists in Charlottesville. Some aides who favored the ouster of Bannon are said to have blamed him for encouraging this kind of reaction from Trump.
THE WEEK IN TRUMP
Incendiary Alliteration: The president warned that “fire and fury” would be unleashed against North Korea if it makes “any more threats” against the US–a line aides reportedly said was improvised. North Korea responded in threatening terms, saying it was “examining” a plan to use ballistic missiles to create an “an enveloping fire…around” the US territory of Guam. Trump tweeted in reply that “military solutions” are now “locked and loaded.”
McConnell Dustup: After Mitch McConnell said Trump suffered from “excessive expectations” about the ease of passing legislation, Trump was asked if McConnell should step aside as Senate Majority Leader. “Well I tell you what, if he doesn’t get repeal and replace done and if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question.” Trump later tweeted “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done…”
Unmentioned Mosque: Trump was criticized for not denouncing a bomb attack on a mosque in Minnesota. Controversial White House aide Sebastian Gorka suggested the attack may have been “propagated by the left.”
Lord Not Thanked: Tireless Trump defender Jeffrey Lord was fired by CNN for tweeting “Sieg Heil” to a liberal he had accused of having fascist tendencies. Explaining the firing, CNN said “Nazi salutes are indefensible.”