His administration couldn't meet a court-ordered deadline last week to reunite all the migrant families separated at the Mexican border. Some 700 children remain apart from their parents largely because, as this Washington Post story explains, no one bothered to make sure there was a coordinated tracking system in place when the "zero tolerance" crackdown was launched.
But President Donald Trump defended the policy and attacked the parents with a tweet Sunday morning, and he brought back a threat to shut down the government this fall if Congress doesn't pass hard-line immigration legislation, including funding for a border wall.
"Please understand, there are consequences when people cross our Border illegally, whether they have children or not — and many are just using children for their own sinister purposes," Trump tweeted. "Congress must act on fixing the DUMBEST & WORST immigration laws anywhere in the world! Vote 'R'" Afterward, he tweeted: "I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!"
Congressional Republicans, who have been able to agree among themselves on an immigration package, sounded unwilling to force the issue before midterm elections, fearing a shutdown would backfire on them.
"I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government," said Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chair of the House GOP campaign committee, on ABC's "This Week."
"I don't think it would be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it," Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.
Behind the 'enemy' lines
Remember when Trump said Democrats who did not stand and applaud for his State of the Union speech last January were "treasonous" and "un-American" and "didn't seem to love our country very much." Trump applied the same logic Sunday in a tweetstorm about his labeling of news media as the "enemy of the people."
Complaining about "negative" coverage "despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving," Trump said. "I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the . . . dying newspaper industry."
Trump's attacks came after he earlier revealed a recent off-the-record meeting with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. "Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, 'Enemy of the People.' Sad!" Trump tweeted.
Sulzberger rebutted Trump in a more detailed account. “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said Sulzberger. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence,” he added.
Trump said the media "puts the lives of many . . . at risk" when it "reveals internal deliberations of our government." He didn't further explain that accusation. But implicit in the comment is that stories he habitually labels as "fake" are real. Last week, he told a crowd to remember "what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."
Trump's gospel of 'fake'
Sulzberger told a Times interviewer that at one point during the July 20 meeting Trump expressed pride in popularizing the phrase “fake news,” and said other countries had begun banning it. Sulzberger responded that those countries were dictatorships and that they were not banning “fake news” but rather independent scrutiny of their actions.
The publisher said he told Trump the elevated threat to journalists was particularly true overseas, where governments use Trump’s words as a pretext to crack down on journalists.
Sulzberger said when he told Trump that newspapers had begun posting armed guards outside their offices, the president expressed surprise that they did not already have them.
When is Mueller's time?
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani offered a new tease on when there may be a decision on whether the president will sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators — maybe this week, maybe next week.
Giuliani said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Trump's team wants an interview basically limited to questions involving alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, but he said Trump might also agree to answer question about obstruction of justice in some form.
Giuliani on the Sunday shows, and Trump on Twitter, kept up their attacks on the credibility of the president's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, who is reportedly offering to tell Mueller that Trump knew ahead of time about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Trump unleashed a furious series of tweets against Mueller, reviving claims that the special counsel has conflicts of interest, "including . . . that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship." That apparently refers to a dispute over fees at Trump's Virginia golf club. Trump raised the supposed conflicts with White House counsel Don McGahn more than a year ago in a bid to get rid of Mueller, according to past reports. McGahn was unmoved and warned Trump not to fire Mueller.
Wanted Super Patriot, got Jared instead
Several times when he was displeased with his senior adviser and son-in-law, The New York Times reports, Trump joked that he “could have had Tom Brady” as a son-in-law but “Instead . . . I got Jared Kushner.”
The anecdote appeared in an account of how Kushner and Trump's daughter Ivanka — after a long stretch of keeping their heads down amid White House internal battles — have outlasted their enemies and plan to assume higher profiles.
Trump's fan crush on Brady began long before New England Patriots quarterback notched five Super Bowl rings. As far back as 2004, Trump said in a Playboy interview that Brady and Ivanka "would make a great combination." Trump's first wife and Ivanka's mom Ivana wrote in a book published earlier this year that Trump wanted Ivanka to date him "but Ivanka wasn't into it."
No turn on right
Billionaire industrialist and major campaign fundraiser Charles Koch isn't amending his right-wing take on a trade war to appease the Republican president. On Sunday he publicly warned of a recession and said "protectionism at any level" is "detrimental."
Steve Bannon, the former White House and Trump campaign strategist, told Politico of the Charles and David Koch political network: "What they have to do is shut up and get with the program, OK? And here’s the program: Ground game to support Trump’s presidency and program, [and] victory on Nov. 6."
What else is happening:
- Trump boasted on Twitter that he has the "highest Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party. That includes Honest Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan." Polling did not exist when Lincoln was president from 1861 to 1865.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday" that he believes the United States can sustain economic growth of at least 3% for the next four to five years. Bloomberg News said that outlook is at odds with that of many economists as well as the Federal Reserve.
- Top corporate executives are reaping fat rewards from stock buy-backs, arising from massive new corporate tax cuts approved by Congress and signed by Trump. Politico gives examples.
- Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, predicted on CNN's "State of the Union" that the president's policies will start to bring down the deficit in 12 to 18 months. The Office of Management and Budget projects the negative budget number will pass $1 trillion in 2019.
- Despite Trump's fight-to-win rhetoric, his administration is urging American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas of the country, all but ceding vast stretches of territory to the Taliban, The New York Times reported. The withdrawal resembles strategies tried by the Bush and Obama administrations during the nearly 17-year-old war.
- Trump’s family business partially destroyed legally protected sand dunes north of Aberdeen, Scotland, when it built a golf course there, according to government reports released under a freedom of information request.
- Fake Russian soldiers were "guarding" the Trump star symbol on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after it was vandalized again, leading to an arrest. A brawl broke out at the site between fans and haters of the president.