TRUMP SHUTS GOVERNMENT DOWN!
President Donald Trump is precipitating chaos and seeking to wield unrestrained power as America enters a holiday period overshadowed by political pandemonium orchestrated by the disruptor-in-chief.
For the third time this year, Congress is paralyzed, unable to prevent a shutdown that sent thousands of federal employees home for Christmas unsure about their upcoming paychecks.
Trump is polling advisers on whether he has the power to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell following sell-offs on Wall Street that have taken away one of his favorite measures of his own job performance — soaring stock markets.
The revelation came days after the President announced a snap withdrawal of US troops in Syriaagainst the advice of his advisers and without consulting allies. The move provoked the resignations of his most admired Cabinet officer, Defense Secretary James Mattis, who penned a devastating critique of Trump’s “America First” world view, and a day later, of Trump’s special envoy in the ISIS fight, Brett McGurk.
This week, the White House signaled that Mr. Trump was going to drop his demand for a border wall to keep the government open. But some of his most loyal conservative supporters unleashed a torrent of uncharacteristically harsh criticism. “Fox and Friends” hosts complained; Rush Limbaugh fumed; and Ann Coulter declared that without the wall she wouldn’t vote to re-elect Mr. Trump because he will have presided over a “joke presidency” and “scammed the American people.”
Though this wouldn’t have been the first time the president backed off demands for a border wall and agreed to government spending deals, this time there was an increased urgency among conservatives; Democrats are set to take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3. As Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, framed it, “If we’re not going to fight now, when are we going to fight?”
According to a Quinnipiac poll, American voters opposed setting off a shutdown over border wall funding, 62 percent to 34 percent. But Republicans supported the move 59 percent to 33 percent. Poll results were not broken down further, but among Mr. Trump’s core supporters, enthusiasm for a border wall showdown was most likely even stronger.
President Trump, in other words, faced a classic political quandary of having to choose between his party’s base and the general electorate. His decision shows that he’s concluded his best path to re-election runs through appealing to his base. And he’s probably right.
Compared with that of other presidents, Mr. Trump’s approval rating is relatively inelastic, so there isn’t really an option of his winning over moderates by co-opting the message of his opponents, as Bill Clinton successfully did after Democratic losses in the 1994 midterms. Mr. Trump’s own unorthodox political rise has taught him that the road to victory lies in energizing a devoted group of supporters.
Trump, who bowed to a right-wing revolt and forced the fight by digging in on a dispute over funding for his border wall, addressed the crisis by tweeting a picture of himself signing already-passed bills — a number of which concerned the naming of post offices — while also complaining that he was staying in Washington instead of heading out on his 16-day Florida golf vacation as planned.
That was after one senator, Democrat Brian Schatz from Hawaii, flew all the way home to have what he tweeted was a “17 minute visit” with his family before hopping back on a plane to rejoin the Senate’s latest round of brinksmanship.
“Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall,” he tweeted when he got back.
At midnight on Friday, the government slipped into a partial shutdown after Congress declined to bow to Trump’s demands for $5 billion in taxpayer cash for a border wall that he repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for. While negotiations are expected to continue, the Senate adjourned Saturday afternoon, likely assuring the partial government shutdown would continue until at least Thursday, when the Senate is scheduled to reconvene.
“OUR GREAT COUNTRY MUST HAVE BORDER SECURITY!” Trump tweeted on Friday night along with a video in which he demanded a “great barrier” to stop what he said were gangs and criminals pouring across the border.
A White House official told CNN’s Pamela Brown that while staffers are used to chaos, this time around “it feels different.”
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