The public knows by now that President Donald Trump is not wildly devoted to explaining his government’s actions in a full, clear and factual way. So we can safely conclude that these 10 simple and sober questions will yield no direct answers from the White House in the days ahead, topical though they may be:
1. If advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci isn't to be trusted, what's the point of even consulting epidemiologists? Should the administration defer on pandemic issues to trade adviser Peter Navarro or former game show host Chuck Woolery?
In an effort to deny bad news, Trump has been looking to undercut Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert. Navarro, whose earliest warnings about the coronavirus were ignored, has been tangling with Fauci behind the scenes over messaging.
The scene grew more surreal Monday when the president retweeted Woolery, saying that, from doctors and the CDC to Democrats, "everyone is lying" about COVID-19.
2. Beyond "just do it," please give a palpable and coherent presentation of the exact steps local districts, states and towns across America should take to resolve the real-life complications of reopening schools.
So far, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has yet to do so. Beyond jargon about "hot spots," she and others in the White House have danced around the touchy topic of reassuring people that contagion will be reasonably avoided when school opens.
"Just go back to school," senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the other day. "It's not that hard." Thus he implicitly insulted those who have to make the real-life decisions.
3. What tips do you have for future presidents who may be reluctant to take time away from the job to play golf more than any of their predecessors?
Trump reacted defensively over the weekend regarding media reports that he has been on golf courses on 276 days while in office, way more than Barack Obama, who he'd criticized in nasty terms for playing too much golf.
Arriving at his own course Sunday in Sterling, Virginia, Trump was greeted by protesters, including one dressed as the grim reaper with a sign reading “137K,” the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths so far. The president said he plays quickly and works while on the greens.
4. When and for how long did you examine Justice Department records of people seeking pardons and commutations before concluding that Roger Stone, who lied to authorities on your behalf, was most worthy of merciful treatment right now?
The commutation was announced Friday. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the Trump administration to turn over the order and reportedly wondered if political operative Stone's parole was commuted along with his three-year sentence.
5. During what you call a terribly unfair and endless audit of your taxes, what issues has the IRS indicated it may have with your filings? What evidence do you offer to show that such an audit process even exists?
Trump is the only major-party candidate in a generation to refuse to release his taxes. The Supreme Court ruled last week that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is entitled to Trump's business and tax records as part of a criminal probe.
6. Why do you believe both of your Supreme Court picks found it appropriate to sign on to an opinion underscoring that you are not above the law?
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh concurred with Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote up the court's 7-2 decision on the Vance case.
7. What detailed sourcing and information supports the surprising claim that “the radical left has scared Fox [News Channel] into submission”?
Trump tweeted this bizarre statement on Monday.
8. Did you know about U.S. intelligence community assessments that the Russians offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan?
So far, he's neither acknowledged knowing of the information when it was first circulated in the government nor condemned Russia for the possible practice.
9. Which polls and/or advisers or right-wing media persuaded you at this late date to wear a mask in public?
Trump drew huge attention when he finally let himself be photographed in a black mask at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday. That's 99 days after the CDC recommended that Americans wear face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible, prompting a politicized backlash among some of his supporters.
10. What is your agenda for a second term?
This very basic question has been asked twice in TV interviews by pro-Trump media. Both times, the president avoided giving a direct answer, leaving others to speculate as to why.