(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
This week Donald Trump performed the mother of all flip-flops. On Monday he was still operating on the right wing of the GOP, and today nobody knows exactly where his political point of gravity is, but he definitely seems to be chummier with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ than with Mitch and Paul. The week started with the usual illogical rhetoric and empty threats. At a time when South Korea is the prime target of North Korea’s nuclear adventurism Trump threatened the country with a trade war, and subsequently he declared that the US would stop trading with all countries that also do business with North Korea. The latter message appeared to be primarily targeted at China, where Trump produces his oversized neckties and Ivanka her plagiarized shoes, so for that reason alone it was not to be believed and childish, even apart from the fact that the US economy would suffer immensely if Trump would try to follow through. Having thus created enough confusion for a whole week in one day Trump had a photo-op in Texas, where he put a box in a pickup truck to show solidarity with Harvey’s victims.
DACA was up next. Trump sent out Jeff Sessions to announce the end of the program, with a six months window for Congress to find a solution for the undocumented young Americans who would be deported to countries where they have never lived. Apparently alarmed by the almost universal disapproval of his decision Trump tweeted that if Congress could not come up with a solution he would revisit the issue, thus signaling that he had produced another empty threat, albeit one that threw 800,000 lives in disarray. By that time Trump probably already had some doubts about the GOP agenda, so when he met with Chuck, Nancy, Mitch and Paul to discuss the debt ceiling, funding the government and hurricane relief money the self-proclaimed master deal-maker immediately accepted a proposal from the Democrats for a temporary, three months solution, setting up a brutal year-end fiscal cliff. The president not only shocked Mitch and Paul, but also his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, who was in the middle of a sentence criticizing Chuck and Nancy’s proposal when Trump overruled him.
Many explanations for Trump’s unexpected ‘deal’ with Chuck and Nancy are circulating. One is that he wanted to spite Mitch and Paul, who haven’t given him any ‘wins’ yet, another that he didn’t want a fight over budget issues that could derail his plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and a third that he realizes closing down the government in the context of such a fight is not an option at a time when hurricane relief is an absolute priority. It’s also possible that he’s just lazy.
Certain is that Trump was delighted with the positive coverage the deal received, but his happiness was short lived. Interrogated by staffers of the Senate Judiciary Committee Don Trump Jr. yesterday tried to lie his way out of the accusation of collusion with the Russians, as he came up with a fifth explanation for the meeting that took place in Trump Tower on June 9th, 2016.
Incriminating himself, Jr. said that he took the meeting, after a promise that he would receive ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton that he should summarily have reported to the FBI, to assess her ‘fitness’ for the presidency. Unless his father pardons him he’s looking at five years in a federal penitentiary.
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