Hole lotta trouble
So what did Donald Trump accomplish besides adding a new word to the presidential lexicon by earthily sorting out those parts of Earth where immigrants should and shouldn’t come from?
For starters, prospects for a deal to protect young immigrants from deportation and prevent a government shutdown later this week are looking bleaker, The Washington Post reported.
Trump tweeted Sunday that a DACA agreement was “probably dead,” blaming Democrats in the wake of the meeting Thursday in which the president, according to attendees, derided “shithole countries,” report Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.
Two GOP senators there — Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) — on Sunday insisted Trump never said it, disputing Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) But other Republican senators, including Tim Scott (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) said they got verification from other attendees.
Trump’s denials have been, to borrow a phrase, low-energy. On Thursday night, he phoned friends to gauge how the comments were playing.”
All 55 African nations protested the remarks, a headache not just for U.S. diplomats, but also for the U.S. military, which needs cooperation there for counterterrorism operations.
‘Not a racist’
Alluding to the Cotton-Perdue version of events, Trump said Sunday night the inflammatory comment “was not made.” He told reporters at one of his Florida golf clubs: “I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
Janison: Stirring the melting pot
Rep. Mia Love, who left Brooklyn years ago, seemed more in tune with what might be called New York values than the president who hails from Queens, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
The daughter of Haitian immigrants, she converted to Mormonism, moved to Utah and in 2015 became the first black female Republican in Congress, media accounts noted.
Trump’s word about nations including her ancestral homeland were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values,” her statement said. They were also racist, Love said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
A group of Haitian-American diplomats working for the State Department wrote an open letter voicing “heartbreak and despair” over “disparaging remarks emanating from the administration we serve,” PBS reported.
Gotta get Oprah it
Some political experts say the Oprah Winfrey 2020 craze that went viral last week points to deep anxiety among those who are eager to unseat Trump, but worried about the Democrats’ lack of an obvious standard-bearer, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
They said they understood Winfrey’s appeal as a Trump foil: She’s inclusive, she’s self-made and she’s a larger-than-life figure who, like him, would dominate headlines.
But it reflects “desperation,” said Christina Greer, a Democratic political analyst and NYU McSilver Institute fellow. “Oprah’s supposed to come in and do what her TV show does, which is make you feel good without challenging you,” Greer said.
Tales of the tape
Trump is disputing how he was quoted in a Wall Street Journal interview as saying, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
The first word was “I’d,” “not I,” Trump tweeted— meaning he was not claiming to have a relationship now.
Both the White House and the Journal released audio recordings of the interview to back up their accounts. The verdict: Inconclusive. It’s still unclear what he said. (Unlike in the NFL, that doesn’t mean the ruling on the field stands.)
'Slap of the century'
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Trump on Sunday in a fiery two-hour speech, rhetorically playing off the White House talk of a "deal of the century" with Israel as the "slap of the century." Abbas criticized tweets from the American president that are taken as Trump's official position as well as the White House representatives. The Washington Post describes the details.
London calling him out
Another Trump tweet in recent days doesn’t hold up. After reports from British media that he called off a London visit to open the new U.S. Embassy next month rather than face massive anti-Trump protests, the president put out this story:
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal.”
In reality, the decision was made during the George W. Bush administration to find a new embassy site that could be better secured against terrorist attacks.
Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador (and New York Jets owner) Woody Johnson said the new embassy “did not cost the U.S. taxpayer a cent” because it was entirely paid for by the sale of other London properties.
What else is happening
- Amid the profanity uproar and the Hawaii missile strike false alarm, a Trump weekend tweet helped keep the Michael Wolff “Fire and Fury ...” book in the news. The president complained about “a mentally deranged author, who knowingly writes false information.”
- Trump said “We’re going to get involved” with Hawaii officials in the aftermath of the scare and “I love that they took responsibility.”
- Trump hasn’t reacted to another Wall Street Journal (pay site) story — that a month before the 2016 election, one of his lawyers arranged a $130,000 payment to a former porn star so she’d keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter with him. The lawyer, Michael Cohen, denied there was such a liaison.
- A 24-year-old man with no experience since graduating college other than working on Trump’s campaign rose to a deputy chief of staff job in the White House in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, The Washington Post reported.
- White House chief of staff John Kelly, in charge of keeping the Trump White House’s daily drama under control, has told associates, “If we end the day in neutral, it’s a good day,” Politico reports.
- Trump’s habit of throwing Republicans off message is adding to GOP alarm that the party could be facing a Democratic electoral wave in November, The Washington Post reports. Politico says the anxiety extends to governors’ races.