Jun 13, 2017

This isn’t normal: Inside Trump’s daily disruptions

Andrew Harnik / AP

We try very hard here to simply explain the Trump White House, and not join the pile-on. To us, the Trump world doesn't need more noise — it needs more explanation and illumination. But there are moments when it's important to remind even our staunchest pro-Trump readers that this often isn't anything approximating normal:

  • In 18 years of covering presidents, we have never seen a Cabinet meeting like the one yesterday. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, taking his turn to genuflect for a beaming Trump, said: "On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people." (N.Y. Times front-page headline: "Flatterers First, Then President Praises Himself'" ... CNN chyron: "TRUMP'S WEIRD CABINET MEETING.")
  • Going back to the Clintons, we have never seen a president and his family work so hard to promote or appear on a program like the Trumps' trumpet, "Fox & Friends." From yesterday's show: "Hey, look! It's Ivanka Trump." ... "I join you almost every morning, just not on the couch!" This came after Trump himself promoted the friendly show on Twitter, which he regularly does.
  • In 228 years of presidents, none has canned the FBI director, then allowed his own Justice Department to appoint a special counsel — who within weeks his friends and allies would openly muse about firing.
  • In modern presidential history, there is nothing comparable to the personal and public attacks on James Comey by the president and his eldest son. In the last few days alone, they have called Comey — a guy who most elected Republican officials in town like and trust — a liar, a coward, a criminal leaker, and "a dishonest man of bad character."

Be smart: Remember that we're living through history that will be studied and debated until the end of time. Many Trump backers, both the eager and reluctant ones, enjoy the destruction of norms and bemoan the highly critical coverage of this presidency. But we should never lose sight that we are experiencing a daily display of unprecedented actions and behaviors.

P.S. Quote du jour — Ivanka Trump on "Fox & Friends": "There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy. ... [S]ome of the distractions and some of the ferocity, ... I was a little blindsided by."

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.