Things got real this week in America under Trump’s fourth week of “leadership”. Not even a month into his presidency and we’ve seen a resignation, a rejection, record polling numbers, and provocation from enemy states – and those are just a few things this week. Welcome to our rehash of Trump’s administration, Week 4.
- General Mattis put pressure on NATO members this week to try to meet their 2% GDP contribution to the organization, or to at least start to incrementally increase the percentage. So far, it seems like Mattis carried out this request in a firm, but non-threatening way, meaning he didn’t threaten to leave NATO like Trump threatened to do during his campaign. There is certainly a line to be crossed here, but it looks like Mattis is going about this the right way. It’s good to see some sanity on Trump’s team.
- Trump met with Canada’s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau this week in what seemed to be a cordial affair. The two discussed how to elevate women in business, which is never a bad subject. Even though there are some major issues with Trump’s handshake, and Sean Spicer forgot Trudeau’s first name, he managed not to offend the liberal Trudeau or anger any additional nations this week. Hey, we’ll take what we can get.
- A Russian ship built for intelligence gathering was spotted off the coast of Connecticut on Wednesday and then off the coast of Virginia on Friday, both locations of military bases. When asked, Trump stated he doesn’t believe Putin is trying to provoke him and that the placement of the ship is “not good”, but that he couldn’t blow the ship out of the water because then he wouldn’t be able to make a deal. I suppose the buzzing of an American air craft carrier by Russian jets last week wasn’t a provocation, either.
- President Trump’s team announced this week that he would be holding an actual campaign rally Saturday night in an airplane hangar in Florida. The rally is being paid for by his 2020 campaign, which he already launched (far earlier than any other modern president) in order to continue the legal sale of his MAGA hats. Considering he hasn’t accomplished anything as president yet, it’s not clear what record he will be campaigning on. More on this next week.
- Melissa McCarthy reprised her role as Sean Spicer on last Saturday’s SNL. It’s clear the writers at the show had been reading the reactions to McCarthy’s debut show because there was a direct response to Spicer’s critique of the skit (the gum chewing). There was also a redoubling of efforts to feminize Spicer, placing him in Ivanka Trump heels and jewelry. NBC is really trying to hit Trump where it hurts, that much is clear. They missed the mark with their creepy Jake Tapper and Kellyanne Conway skit, which was over-the-top. Catch the Spicer skit here.
- The Associated Press reported this week that Trump was considering deploying 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants. When most Americans freaked out over the intensity of this action, the Trump White House denied the story and called it fake news. However, when AP tried to confirm the story with same White House before its release, they did not receive a response to numerous inquiries. Since the original story dropped, it has been confirmed that this was, in fact, a real memo circulating in the administration. However, the White House has denied it was ever really in consideration. AP’s sources, on the other hand, assert that this plan was in consideration up until as recently as February 10. Some have speculated this is a trial balloon put forth by Trump’s administration or some kind of media manipulation. Either way, something’s rotten in the state of…well….America.
- When reports surfaced this week that intelligence agencies had full conversations between Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, and Russian diplomats and that these conversations were definitely involving sanctions, the poo hit the fan in America. You see, General Flynn had previously denied any talk of sanctions and even VP Pence had repeated this lie on national television on Flynn’s behalf. So, in light of all the lying, Flynn resigned. Trump’s reason for asking Flynn to resign was that Flynn had lied to the VP, NOT that Flynn had done something traitorous and possibly illegal. Trump also said that Flynn was just doing his job, that he would’ve instructed him to do it anyway, and that the resignation was all the fault of leaks and the media. Chances are, Trump did instruct Flynn about what to say to the Russians and Flynn was the fall guy. The truth will come out. It always does. Believe me!
- With Michael Flynn’s resignation, Trump’s replacement pick for National Security Advisor was a man by the name of Vice Admiral Bob Harward, a former Seal Team Commander, and all-around badass. Unfortunately, Harward turned down the job, citing family concerns. However, reports stated that Harward called the job a “sh** sandwich” and was not able to get Trump to allow him to pick his own team, meaning Bannon’s place on the NSC would’ve been in jeopardy. Harward’s rejection of the offer only added insult to injury in a disastrous week for the National Security team.
- The good news is that Trump decided to hold a press conference this week. The bad news is that Trump decided to hold a press conference this week. The display was best described as insane and disjointed, which is not outside the norm for any kind of off-the-cuff Trump speech. The stand-out moments were when he asked a black reporter to set him up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, when he bit off an orthodox Jew’s head for asking a legitimate question about combatting anti-Semitism, and several incidences of his usual spreading of disinformation. You can find a great synopsis of the speech by Ben Shapiro here.
- Trump is averaging about 8 tweets per day right now. One wonders when he has time to, you know, be president. Most of his tweets were screaming about fake news and the very mean leakers who outed nothing but the truth about his National Security Advisor’s contacts with Russia. But the winner for worst tweet of the week goes to:
- Last weekend, while Trump was enjoying a nice dinner in his “winter White House”, Mar-a-Lago, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sitting next to him, evil dictator Kim Jong Un of North Korea decided to crash the party by launching a moderate-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. While this is a story in and of itself, the bigger story which emerged was that Trump refused to uproot his keister and take it into a more secure area to deal with the resulting flurry of top-secret activity that followed. Instead, he sat at his table surrounded by restaurant patrons, who were uploading pictures of the whole thing to Facebook. Even more charming is that the agent who carries the “nuclear football” thought it would be a good idea to pose for a picture, which also obviously went viral. If anyone should know that a lack of discipline can cripple any talented team, it’s the guy carrying the “football”.
- President Trump garnered his lowest approval ratings yet this week in new polls administered after the resignation of Michael Flynn. The story is less how low the ratings are and more how early the low ratings are. Trump has managed to beat his predecessors by double digits when you measure “weeks into the administration before hitting lowest ratings.” Winning bigly.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back for more drama next week.