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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chief Executive v. Executive Branch

Dan Balz reports at The Washington Post:
Early in the week, Trump complained on Twitter about his Justice Department’s rewriting of his original travel ban just as the administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court ruling striking down the policy. Those tweets potentially damage the government’s legal case, but beyond that, they ignore the fact that the president signed the original and the revised order that he now derides.
The New York Times then reported Trump’s ongoing dissatisfaction with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the president has not forgiven for recusing himself from all things related to Russia, a decision that has led in one step after another to Comey’s departure and the appointment of Mueller as special counsel. Sessions, of course, was one of Trump’s earliest and most important endorsers and a staunch loyalist throughout the campaign. If one as loyal as Sessions receives no loyalty in return, what will others in the administration think?
In another example of the president being disconnected from his top advisers, Politico’s Susan Glasser reported that language reaffirming this nation’s commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, a standard of presidential speeches to U.S. allies in Europe, was removed at the last minute from Trump’s speech at NATO headquarters last month. The president’s senior national security advisers had signed off on the wording, and apparently it was removed without their advance knowledge, according to the report.
In the wake of a decision Monday by Persian Gulf nations to cut off relations with Qatar, an action that has further roiled the Middle East, Trump used Twitter to take credit by tweeting about what he had said and done while in Saudi Arabia on his recent trip. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered more careful and reassuring reactions, hoping to contain rather than enlarge the rift.
Also in the past five days, Trump got into a Twitter spat with London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of Saturday’s terrorist attack. His criticism of the mayor came shortly after he expressed solidarity with the people of Britain over the attack. The feud between Trump and Khan began more than a year ago, but the president’s decision to use this moment to revive it brought a shocked reaction and criticism from Britain.