For the first week in a while, the President did not fire one of his staff members. Instead, there was an escalation in the trade war with China, a decision to send the National Guard to the Mexican border, and an intensifying quarrel with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Other dramatic moments include continuing scandals involving EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and the President’s decision to skip the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
The Big Drama
While it has not been the most dramatic moment of the Trump presidency, the President’s decision to sign a national memorandum ordering National Guard troops on assignment to the Southern border is a controversial move. Of course, ultimately, the memorandum leaves the decision to deploy these National Guard troops up to the various state governors. Still, the show of force that the President imagined is highly unlikely – there is no precedence for armed National Guard members to deploy against immigrants on the nation’s border, and the court reaction to such a move would be unfavorable. Both former President George W. Bush and former President Obama also deployed troops for border security purposes – but not to replace the Border Patrol.
The most dramatic moves by Trump this week all involve him flexing his power, and craving a show of force against enemies and international actors. It has often been reported that the President has a different idea about the role of the military and what it means to win than the generals that have actually carried out military actions. In an utterly disturbing report by the Washington Post, the tough-guy image went too far, as the President questioned the CIA why they waited to conduct an airstrike on a terrorist until he was away from his family.
This has caused many to question whether his belief that military operations should be quick and decisive is out of impatience or callousness.
This impatience is another reason why the military is frustrated with the White House. Trump’s calls to pull the military out of Syria and the Middle East goes against the new military stance that the modern way of war is a long, drawn-out objective.
More Drama Bombs
On a lighter note, China and the United States have now entered a trade war! Oh wait, never mind, that’s not light at all. In fact, the President’s need to escape his boredom has led the U.S. to the dubious honor of angering one of the world’s strongest economic powers. The situation with Beijing has escalated to the extent that the United States has threatened to levy an additional $100 billion worth in tariffs on imports on China. China has responded by threatening some of the United States’ most vital industries – soybeans, cotton, whiskey, and 103 other industries would suffer.
The White House response to criticism? Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin admits that “There is a level of risk that we could get into a trade war.” However, he continues to remain hopeful that negotiation with China is possible.
Of course, negotiation may not prove to be possible as long as the President continues to stay on Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, another leader in big industry is angry at Trump this week – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Trump has tweeted five times about Amazon’s apparent threat to the United States Postal Service. He claimed that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers to Amazon.” This claim is difficult to prove, as Amazon’s deal with the Postal Service is not currently open to the public.
Still, I’m sure that the world’s richest man is not too upset about being the target of one of the many Twitter attacks the President has launched since before he announced his presidential bid.
Other Major Players
- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is under fire yet again this week after it came out that he had made efforts to approve raises for two of his top aides at the EPA without approval from the White House. This comes after reports that Pruitt has demoted aides who warned him about ethics violations, rented a home from environmental lobbyists, and other improper actions. Could Pruitt be next week’s fire-of-the-week?
- For the second year in a row, the President has decided not to attend the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. This move is not a surprise considering Trump stoked the “fake news” movement, and continues to question the efficacy of media powers. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will sit at the head table in the President’s place.