Viewed through a political lens, the news of this week proved less than stellar for the Trump administration — highlighting as it did the persistent problems he faces on many fronts.
Still longing for a legislative win, President Donald Trump on Wednesday reminded an audience of his troubles with lawmakers when he said of tax cuts: “I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done.
“And I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me?”
That is, unlike the failed Obamacare repeal.
One day earlier, he made an appropriate visit to flood-devastated Texas, which made for good-enough optics. But the news media also treated it as a gaffe when he said to those cheering him in Corpus Christi: “What a crowd, what a turnout.”
On Thursday, the White House announced the closing of a Russian consulate in San Francisco and two annexes elsewhere in the United States. This came three days after Trump said he believed relations would improve “some day.”
By then, the question of the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts last year returned to the news. It was reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was working behind the scenes with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
This led to speculation that a state-level probe could make the Mueller inquiry pardon-proof — with the presumption that the president’s power in that regard is limited to federal convictions.
Again, this is not necessarily bad news for the president, depending on how the investigations eventually come out. But it isn’t positive either.
Economic indicators have been good, to the point where they are touted consistently by Trump, and the administration seems to have had the desired effect of driving down illegal border crossings from Mexico.
But Reuters on Thursday reported on a quirky problem that could expose complications in the feds’ immigration crackdown.
As Texans start rebuilding, the labor of immigrants in the country illegally could be uncomfortably important. The Pew Research Center projected last year that 28 percent of Texas’ construction workforce is undocumented. Other studies put the number as high as 50 percent.
Will that mean local small businesses appealing for something along the lines of amnesty? Not a good story for the administration.
The week didn’t begin much better for Trump. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president “speaks for himself” on American values — a statement widely interpreted as distancing himself from his boss.
Then there were the pesky opinion polls. One released midweek by Fox News, for which Trump often reserves rare praise of media, showed 56 percent of Americans feel Trump is “tearing the country apart,” compared to 33 percent saying he’s “drawing the country together.”
The president has endured worse weeks for his image, however. These things are relative.