It was supposed to be “American Dream Week.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders even dug up a cloying anecdote about “Frank” — the enterprising 10-year-old who’d written to ask if he could mow the White House lawn — to mark the occasion. But like “Infrastructure Week,” “Technology Week” and the rest of the Trump Administration’s inept efforts to redirect attention away from its many scandals and humiliations, “American Dream Week” went down in flames. Not even a four-star general, newly-installed in the West Wing, could salvage it.
In case you missed it, here’s WTF happened over the last five days – or, as we’re calling it, National Nightmare Week, part 28 of an ongoing series.
On his first day as White House Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly called curtains on former Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci’s brief and bizarre stint as White House Communications Director. The Mooch was relieved of his duties after less than 11 days on the job, before he was able to implement key provisions of his master plan — like burnishing the president’s image by increasing awareness of his golf skill. “POTUS is the best golfer to serve as President. Perhaps, we embrace it with a national online lottery to play a round of golf with him….or a charity auction,” Scaramucci suggested in the June 30th memo released to the press after his firing.
Incidentally, on Tuesday, Sports Illustrated published a story praising Trump as “easily the best golfer” to ever occupy the Oval Office — with the caveat that it was impossible to know just how good he was since he frequently cheats and inflates his scores. Tucked into the piece was an anecdote in which Trump called the White House “a dump” to explain why he’s spent so much time at his own properties during his first six months in office. (The White House asked for a retraction, but the author stood by the story this week, telling the Golf.com podcast, “The president said this in front of eight or nine members and staffers at Bedminster.”)
The SI dust-up, though, was the least of the president’s worries on Tuesday. That day he was rebuked by the head of the Coast Guard, who pledged he would not “break faith” with transgender soldiers despite the president’s tweets, his Secretary of State, who contradicted the president’s assertion that “China could easily solve [the North Korea] problem,” and Congressional Republicans who appeared to ignore Trump’s entreaties to hold yet another vote on repealing Obamacare.
Also Tuesday, an internal memo leaked that indicated the Justice Department was initiating an effort targeting schools with affirmative action policies for potential discrimination against white applicants. (The DOJ later clarified that the memo, which sought lawyers to work on “litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” was referring to one specific case, rather than an entirely new initiative.)
Trump signed into the law on Wednesday a bipartisan bill increasing sanctions on Iran and Russia, but he wasn’t happy about it. In an official statement, the president called the legislation “seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.” He added, “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
On Twitter, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev taunted Trump over his decision to sign. “The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way,” Medvedev tweeted. “The U.S. establishment fully outwitted Trump. The President is not happy about the sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill.”
That afternoon, the White House trotted senior adviser Stephen Miller out in front of the press to tout the administration’s new proposal calling for a drastic reduction in legal immigration and the prioritization of highly-educated, English-speaking immigrants over all others. Miller failed to offer figures supporting the idea that low-skilled immigration tracks with job losses, became embroiled in a heated exchange with CNN’s Jon Acosta over the true meaning of the Statue of Liberty – on American Dream week, no less!
Thursday morning kicked off with the publication of leaked transcripts of Trump’s January phone calls with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia. In the former, Trump acknowledged that Mexico would not pay for the wall, as he’d promised countless times on the campaign trail, but demanded the president not say that publicly. In the latter, the president rallied against an existing agreement to accept refugees, expressing fears that asylum-seekers would become terrorists, rather than going to work for the “local milk people.”
The hits kept coming Thursday afternoon, as three separate reports emerged, contending, among other revelations, 1) that special counsel Robert Mueller had impanelled a grand jury in Washington D.C., in addition to the one that already investigating General Michael Flynn 2) that the new grand jury is investigating Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, 3) that Mueller was also investigating Trump’s financial dealings and 4) Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has been the subject of government surveillance since at least 2014.
The Secret Service acknowledged agents moved out of their command post inside Trump Tower after a dispute over the terms of the lease. To top it all off, the Senate voted quietly, and unanimously, to prevent Trump from making any recess appointments in their absence.
The president’s “beleaguered” Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that, compared to the last administration, the Department of Justice has tripled its efforts to prosecute leakers. (Earlier this summer, the president publicly chastised Sessions as being “VERY weak” on leakers.)