The Trump (Alternate) Reality display
President Trump would like you to believe he’s approximately to score his first major legislative victory by passing tax reform before the year ends. He’ll then pass a bipartisan deal to protect DREAMers, convince Democrats to benefit repeal Obamacare, total while decertifying the Iran deal and playing grand cop-cross cop with American diplomacy toward North Korea.
But the actual reality — and severity of the situation — is fitting clear: one where the president blasts an influential senator he’ll need on tax reform and is criticized in turn in sharply personal terms; presents fantasy immigration principles that are dead on arrival in Congress; and where the president is limited to engaging in stunts, most recently sending his vice president on a $250,000 taxpayer-funded mission to an NFL game, which he promptly left in supposed indignation because some players wouldn’t stand for the national anthem. total of this is taking region as Americans and world leaders worry that Trump could set off North Korea’s unstable leader with tweets calling him “cramped rocket man,” along with a suggestion that the only option may be war.
This is the Trump alternate reality display, one that seems to be getting more outlandish and unbelievable, as the White House inches toward total-out war with a GOP-controlled Congress.
The clash between realities played out during a call White House adviser Stephen Miller held Sunday night with immigration hardliners and Trump surrogates to walk them through the administration’s recent immigration principles, which would drastically alter the US immigration system in exchange for offering some protections for young undocumented immigrants. Miller, a source on the call said, did his best General Patton impression, imploring his brothers in arms to push forward because “we will not be deterred.”
No one on the call even brought up the opportunity that the hardline wish list, which includes curbs to legal immigration, would beget difficulty passing through Congress.
“People were very glad, it was, ‘How effect we sell this? How effect we accept this done?’” the source on the call said. “They mediate they can accept everything.”
That thought process seems out of line with the actual reality in Washington. Congressional Democratic leaders, who had gleefully announced the broad parameters of a deal with Trump on protecting DREAMers from deportation final month, immediately condemned the recent proposal, which seemed to discard what they had discussed. And a source close to the administration said the framework was Miller’s “aggressive wish list that is clearly not going to happen.”
Strains between the world as Trump presents it and the world Republicans in Washington are experiencing also came into focus Sunday, when Sen. Bob Corker responded to criticism from Trump on Twitter by calling the White House an “adult day care center.” The Tennessee Republican followed up that comment during an interview with the recent York Times, saying he wasn’t alone in his comprehension of the situation. “survey, apart from for a few people, the huge majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said his colleagues.
Corker also pricked Trump’s version of events around why the senator decided not to flee for reelection. “I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not legal,” Corker said. “You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”
Several congressional Republicans — who were out of Washington Monday for the Columbus Day holiday — declined to comment on their relationship with the president or did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ requests for an interview. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Corker to the Associated Press Monday, calling him an “considerable share of our team.” McConnell did not mention the president. And in a statement to BuzzFeed News, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman praised Corker for his “unwavering integrity” and stressed the need for Republicans to reach together: “whether we’re going to achieve our economic and national security agenda we’re going to beget to work together, period.”
Trump spent at least some of his holiday working another Republican senator: He golfed with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, where according to the White House the two went over the administration’s “very aggressive tumble agenda,” including on tax reform and health care.
But concerns approximately the deepening rift with congressional Republicans — and Trump’s version of his presidency — are now front and center, even for the president’s supporters.
“I’m insanely concerned, to be honest,” said a source close to the administration, nearly mimicking words Corker used in his interview with the Times. “I’m slightly pessimistic on tax reform because the clock is ticking,” the source said, adding that while the lion’s share of blame is on “selfish, entitled” Senate Republicans, Trump hasn’t done himself any favors by openly feuding with Corker. “I don’t know why the president felt the need to poke him at this juncture, it’s going to be a tightrope to accept this done. The optics beget to survey like we can accept something through legislatively, eventually.”
Another source close to the administration said that Trump’s Twitter war with Corker is not “the way to influence or accomplish friends.” But the president doesn’t want Republicans to consume him for granted, the source said, adding that has become more evident in his recent willingness to chat with Democratic leaders.
White House aides, the source said, are getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of any legislative accomplishments in Trump’s first year, but are trying to focus their energies and faint optimism on tax reform. Republicans unveiled a framework for tax reform final month, and while there is agreement on broad principles, the details will be tricky to hammer out. Corker, for example, along with other GOP lawmakers, has already raised concerns approximately the proposed overhaul adding to the deficit. And Trump targeting the Tennessee senator on Twitter won’t benefit in getting him on board.
But top administration officials are working to push Trump’s vision. In recent weeks, officials beget been assuring major Republican donors that tax reform will be easier than the health care debacle, as money to the National Republican Senatorial Committee dries up. “Hope springs eternal,” said one such donor who has been briefed by White House aides. “The pressure on lawmakers to pass something is huge.”
Jack Kingston, a former congressman and Trump surrogate on CNN, said lawmakers should compartmentalize any attacks on them from the president and not see criticism as an indictment of the US Senate itself. He did, though, acknowledge that the administration is upset with congressional Republicans.
“There is general White House frustration with a body that said for seven years it would repeal Obamacare and hasn’t done it, and general frustration that with a very rare opportunity — perhaps, possibly once in a decade, where you control the House, Senate, and White House — our own party is involved in a circular firing squad,” Kingston said.
The firing squad only stands to accept more intense once midterms accept closer, and Trump and his allies beget the opportunity to primary disfavored Republican incumbents, like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. A national GOP strategist said the president’s feud with Congress hasn’t had as much of an impact yet on specific races, but whether it continues to translate to lack of legislative accomplishments, it will. “To me this is total share of the Trump display and less to effect with what’s going to happen with these campaigns on the ground,” the strategist said.
“It sucks right now. They need to accept something done.”
For now, that something may just be relegated to stunts, like Vice President Mike Pence’s ordered exit from this weekend’s Indianapolis Colts game. While some Trump supporters roll their eyes at the president’s belittling of Corker, they said they had no problem with his war with the NFL, which has conflated players kneeling over racial inequality in America with being anti-American and anti-military, and they don’t feel the focus on the fight takes absent from his legislative agenda.
“That’s actually picking the right type of enemy,” said a source close to the administration, calling NFL players “smug, entitled millionaires,” before noting that would fit for any professional athletes in any major sports league.
“It’s an considerable fight when you beget boots on the ground in hostile places, troops getting killed, and these millionaires are taking a knee,” Kingston said.
But Democrats say the battle over players kneeling in the NFL is a distraction from the fact that Republicans flee every chamber of government and can’t accept anything done legislatively.
“The NFL fight is accepted with share of Trump’s base, but as we accept closer to the 2018 elections Republicans are going to beget to reply for their inability to deliver for their constituents,” said Symone Sanders, a strategist for Priorities USA and CNN commentator. “What the Trump White House is orchestrating and concocting with Trump tweets, Pence at the game, Melania’s fight with Trump’s ex, and the NFL, zilch of these things accomplish life better for the American people.”
Henry J. Gomez contributed reporting to this yarn.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tarini Parti is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Tarini Parti at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.
News moves rapid. preserve up with the BuzzFeed News daily email!
You’re nearly there! Check your inbox and confirm your subscription now!