Sunday, October 20, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He sent Mick Mulvaney out to do damage control, with poor results.

Trump's acting chief of staff and OMB Director, Mick Mulvaney, has been in the spotlight since Thursday, when he inadvertently admitted that Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on that country performing a fake "investigation" of his presidential rival Joe Biden. Mulvaney walked back the comments later in the day, but the damage was done.

In fairness to Mulvaney, when he admitted that Trump made his political demands part of his willingness to release legally mandated military aid for Ukraine, he was only confirming what Trump himself had already admitted with the release of the White House memo of his call with the Ukrainian president. Still, with at least three major scandals breaking this weekend—his greenlighting the ethnic cleansing of a former ally in Syria, his demand for Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, and his awarding of the G7 summit hosting duties to himself—Trump sent Mulvaney out to do more damage control on the Trump-friendly Fox News Channel. That led to this exchange with host Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: He's decided that he's not going to hold it [the G7 summit] at Doral. He blames it on, quote, the "hostile media and their Democratic partners" but again, he was getting hammered by Republicans, so why did he cave?

MULVANEY: I honestly think what you saw in the tweet was real. The president isn’t one for holding back his feelings and emotions about something. He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

As a factual matter, Mulvaney is correct: Trump, whose mysterious finances would be greatly improved if Trump National Doral stopped losing money for even a single month, is very much in the hospitality business. Every other president in the modern era has sold off their business interests before taking office in order to focus exclusively on the job of the presidency.

Trump's own (presidential) schedule today was once again blank, and he once again spent it on Twitter.

Why does this matter?

  • The presidency is not a part-time job.