Weekend Herald

Down in polls, Trump goes af­ter po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies

Pres­i­dent lashes out in des­per­ate bid for an Oc­to­ber sur­prise

- U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · Donald Trump · White House · Joe Biden · Kamala Harris · William P. Barr · Democratic Party (United States) · Barack Obama · Mike Pompeo · Hillary Clinton · Miami · Afghanistan · Beijing · Russia · Gretchen Whitmer · Michigan · United States Department of Justice · Philippines Department of Justice · Twitter · Nancy Pelosi · United States of America · Maria Bartiromo · Centre · North Shore-LIJ Health System · Oval Office · Republican Party (United States) · Marco Rubio · Christopher A. Wray · Sean Conley · Gold Star Chili · Walter Reed

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump be­rated his own Cabi­net yes­ter­day for not pros­e­cut­ing or im­pli­cat­ing his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies, lash­ing out amid a cas­cade of daunt­ing poll num­bers and a bout with the coro­n­avirus that has locked him in the White House just weeks be­fore the elec­tion.

In his first ex­tended pub­lic com­ments since learn­ing he had the virus last week, Trump balked at par­tic­i­pat­ing in hold­ing the next de­bate with his Demo­cratic chal­lenger, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, re­motely for health rea­sons and called Se­na­tor Ka­mala Har­ris, Bi­den’s run­ning mate, a “monster” and a “com­mu­nist”.

Trump cas­ti­gated his own team, as well, declar­ing that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr would go down in his­tory “as a very sad, sad sit­u­a­tion” if he does not in­dict Democrats like Bi­den and for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. He com­plained that Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo had not re­leased Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails, say­ing, “I’m not happy about him for that rea­son.” And he tar­geted Christo­pher Wray, the FBI direc­tor. “He’s been dis­ap­point­ing,” Trump said.

The pres­sure on his top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials to take ac­tion came as Trump bris­tled at the re­straints of his ill­ness. By the end of the day, he had se­cured a state­ment from the White House physi­cian, Dr Sean Con­ley, re­port­ing that Trump “has re­sponded ex­tremely well to treat­ment” and that by Sun­day, “I fully ex­pect the Pres­i­dent’s re­turn to pub­lic en­gage­ment.” The Trump cam­paign then used that state­ment to ar­gue for the next de­bate to be held in per­son next Fri­day in Mi­ami as orig­i­nally planned.

Trump’s com­ments in an tele­phone in­ter­view with Fox Busi­ness came dur­ing what even for him was a scat­ter­shot per­for­mance, one that ad­vis­ers said re­flected in­creas­ing frus­tra­tion over his po­lit­i­cal for­tunes only 26 days be­fore an elec­tion with sur­veys that show him trail­ing Bi­den by dou­ble dig­its.

He was all over the map, throw­ing out un­sub­stan­ti­ated or dis­cred­ited ac­cu­sa­tions, ex­plain­ing that he wanted to bring home troops from Afghanista­n to be ready to fight China or Rus­sia if nec­es­sary and call­ing Gov­er­nor Gretchen Whit­mer of Michi­gan “the lockup queen” even as his own Jus­tice Depart­ment was an­nounc­ing an antigov­ern­ment group’s plot to kid­nap her.

As for his op­po­nents, he said Bi­den “wouldn’t be pres­i­dent for two months” be­cause “he’s not men­tally ca­pa­ble”, leav­ing Har­ris to then take over the pres­i­dency. “She’s a com­mu­nist,” he said. “We’re go­ing to have a com­mu­nist.” A few hours later, Trump re­posted Twit­ter mes­sages claim­ing Speaker Nancy Pelosi might be or­ches­trat­ing “a coup” against him.

But it was his as­sault on his own ap­pointees that hinted at the es­ca­lat­ing im­per­a­tive to change the course of a cam­paign that has de­fied his ef­forts to shape it for months, what amounted to a plea for an Oc­to­ber sur­prise.

“Un­less Bill Barr in­dicts these peo­ple for crimes, the great­est po­lit­i­cal crime in the his­tory of our coun­try, then we’re go­ing to get lit­tle sat­is­fac­tion un­less I win and we’ll just have to go, be­cause I won’t for­get it,” Trump said, re­fer­ring to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his 2016 cam­paign ties with Rus­sia. “But these peo­ple should be in­dicted. This was the great­est po­lit­i­cal crime in the his­tory of our coun­try, and that in­cludes Obama and it in­cludes Bi­den.”

Trump has of­ten ar­gued that his po­lit­i­cal an­tag­o­nists should be pros­e­cuted, but in this case, he went fur­ther by in­di­cat­ing he had di­rectly pres­sured Barr to in­dict with­out wait­ing for more ev­i­dence. “He’s got all the in­for­ma­tion he needs,” Trump said. “They want to get more, more, more, they keep get­ting more. I said, ‘ You don’t need any more’.”

Even as he sought to re­assert him­self on the pub­lic stage af­ter a week in the hos­pi­tal and in the White House in­fected with the coro­n­avirus, Trump brushed off the dis­ease, say­ing that “when you catch it, you get bet­ter”, ig­nor­ing the more than 212,000 peo­ple who have died from it in the United States. He even seemed to sug­gest he may have been in­fected by the Gold Star par­ents of sol­diers killed in bat­tle at an event hon­our­ing them last month at the White House.

Trump’s phone in­ter­view with Maria Bar­tiromo of Fox Busi­ness was his first time an­swer­ing ques­tions since he was in­fected with the virus and flown to the Wal­ter Reed Na­tional Mil­i­tary Medical Cen­tre, where he stayed for three nights. He in­sisted he had re­cov­ered and was no longer tak­ing the ex­per­i­men­tal drugs used to treat the virus, but that he was still tak­ing a steroid that doc­tors say can pro­duce bursts of en­ergy, eupho­ria and even a sense of in­vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

“I felt pretty lousy,” Trump said. But, he added, “I’m back be­cause I’m a per­fect phys­i­cal spec­i­men and I’m ex­tremely young.”

Trump later re­leased a video ad­dressed specif­i­cally to se­nior cit­i­zens, who were once his po­lit­i­cal base but have in­creas­ingly soured on him as they have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by the pan­demic, ac­cord­ing to polls.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that he had been “very sick,” he praised the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ments he was given for the virus and vowed to pro­vide them to se­niors. “I want you to get the same care that I got,” he said. “You’re go­ing to get the same medicine. You’re go­ing to get it free, no charge, and we’re go­ing to get it to you soon.” White House aides pri­vately ex­pressed concern about whether Trump’s an­i­mated mood in re­cent days stemmed from the dex­am­etha­sone steroid he is on. Doc­tors not in­volved with the Pres­i­dent’s care said it could have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on a pa­tient’s be­hav­iour.

Dr Ne­gin Ha­jizadeh, a pul­monary/ crit­i­cal care physi­cian at North­well Health, noted that most Covid- 19 pa­tients re­ceiv­ing dex­am­etha­sone are on me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion and in a state of in­duced coma, so they do not ex­hibit any be­hav­ioral side ef­fects. But, she said, large stud­ies show that gen­er­ally 28- 30 per cent of pa­tients will ex­hibit mild to mod­er­ate psy­chi­atric side ef­fects like anx­i­ety, in­som­nia, ma­nia or delir­ium af­ter re­ceiv­ing steroid treat­ments, and about 6 per cent may de­velop psy­chosis.

“We will tell fam­ily mem­bers, es­pe­cially for our older pa­tients, ‘ This may cause in­som­nia, this may cause changes in eat­ing habits and, in ex­treme cases, ma­nia and im­paired de­ci­sion mak­ing’.” Watch­ing the news cov­er­age and an­gry at the state of the race, Trump has been im­plor­ing aides to let him re­sume cam­paign ral­lies as soon as this week­end, which now could be pos­si­ble. He showed up again in the Oval Of­fice Fri­day de­spite ef­forts to get him to re­main in the res­i­dence un­til he was more fully re­cov­ered.

Around the White House and in­side the Trump cam­paign, some ad­vis­ers are wor­ried. Oth­ers are look­ing at the cal­en­dar and ar­gu­ing that there is still a lot of time left while they re­alise there are few if any op­por­tu­ni­ties to change the tra­jec­tory of the race. That would be es­pe­cially true with­out next week’s de­bate.

Alex Co­nant, a Repub­li­can strate­gist and for­mer aide to Se­na­tor Marco Ru­bio of Florida, said that the Trump cam­paign was en­ter­ing a dan­ger­ous win­dow, sug­gest­ing that a cam­paign head­ing for a pos­si­ble de­feat be­comes treach­er­ous.

“The knives come out, the donors flee and the can­di­date throws em­bar­rass­ing Hail Marys,” he said. “Most politi­cians can han­dle los­ing a race, but they re­ally don’t want to be em­bar­rassed. When a loss seems in­evitable, peo­ple who want a fu­ture in pol­i­tics start look­ing out for their own in­ter­ests. Peo­ple start look­ing over their shoul­ders.”

 ??  ?? US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.
US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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