Trump rages at allies as potential October surprises misfire. Halfway through October, President Donald Trump’s surprises are sputtering.
The developments he not-so-secretly hoped might resuscitate his political possibilities – from a pre-election coronavirus vaccine to a damning trove of Justice Department discoveries to a massive new stimulus package complete with another round of checks emblazoned with his signature – have all faded in probability.
Once optimistic he could use the powers of his office to coerce well-timed successes, Trump now discovers his efforts running up against political headwinds, regulatory burdens and plain reality. He is days away from reaching the last feasible point in his administration while promising something in “about fourteen days” will improve his electoral possibilities. Some outside the White House – including his onetime national security adviser – have openly fretted at what Trump might orchestrate to make up political ground.
Furious at his deputies for failing to execute, Trump is rethinking his potential second term Cabinet, people acquainted with the matter said, though he remains superstitious and doesn’t care for discussing who he would reappoint whenever reelected, believing it bad karma. At the White House, efforts to deliver final-hour policy wins are scattershot at best as staff work through a viral outbreak. Trump himself has proven not exactly supportive, offering contradictory edicts by means of Twitter.
“We’ll see, you know, can only do what you can do,” Trump said during a call into Fox Business Network on Thursday morning, his fifth time speaking to a Fox network since returning home from the hospital. “But there’s never been an administration that’s done so much so well.”
The disappearing life savers have infuriated the President. Instead of big new announcements from the Rose Garden or in an election battleground, Trump has taken to dialing Fox hosts from the White House and tearing his senior-most Cabinet members for not delivering before November 3.
Indeed, even the most faithful
Indeed, even officials viewed as the most faithful and therefore the safest -, for example, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – have not escaped Trump’s wrath. Trump refused to answer when questioned during a Newsmax phone-in on Wednesday whether he would request that Barr serve in a second term.
“I have no comment,” he said. “Can’t comment on that. It’s too early. I’m not happy.” A day later, it was Mnuchin, currently leading fruitless negotiations on Capitol Hill over another stimulus package, being lashed by the President. “He hasn’t come home with the bacon,” Trump said.
In other settings, Trump has chastised aides for not arranging significant announcements in the campaign’s final weeks that might help improve his standing with key electoral groups where he has lost ground, for example, senior citizens or women. And even after returning to the White House from his hospitalization for coronavirus, Trump remained upset at his chief of staff for telling reporters that his initial symptoms were stressing.
This autumn has still been ready with election season surprises, from a Supreme Court vacancy to new Middle East diplomacy to the President’s own Covid diagnosis and hospitalization. But the items Trump had once planned to tout in the end days of the presidential contest are failing – a new experience for a man used to getting what he wants.
“At the point when I knew Donald, pretty much everything consistently broke his direction. There was consistently somebody there to tidy up his wreck. There was consistently somebody there to hand him hundreds of millions of dollars to bail him out,” said Mary Trump, the President’s niece who recently published a scathing account of his upbringing. “He is in a completely different universe right now where nobody is left, really, to get him out of the jams he continues getting himself into. And I think that’s the pressure he’s inclination, honestly.”
Justice Department burdens
The latest potential “October Surprise” was extinguished this week. After consistent building up by the President and his allies in conservative media, a Justice Department investigation into the routine intelligence practice of “unmasking” ended without any charges, according to The Washington Post.
It’s also become clear a separate probe by US Attorney John Durham into the causes of the Russia investigation will fail to produce the type of damning information Trump once hoped would convince voters he’d been unfairly persecuted during the first years of his presidency.
Current and former Justice officials have said the Durham probe presently can’t seem to discover evidence to bring any significant indictments against the people Trump considers his political foes. And Barr has also told Republican lawmakers in recent weeks not to expect a report from Durham on his discoveries before Election Day.
Durham is notoriously slow and methodical in his investigations, which typically stretch years, according to people acquainted with how he works, an issue that has frustrated Justice officials and Trump’s congressional allies. It has also enraged the President, who has directed his wrath at Barr, accusing him of stalling.
“For what reason should they get a free pass because it took too long to do the investigation?” he said Thursday during his telephone interview on Fox Business. “They want to wait until after the election to be pleasant? It’s very sad. Actually it’s pathetic.”
Trump has been no less forgiving of Pompeo, who he accused last seven day stretch of stalling in releasing some of Hillary Clinton’s messages. The top diplomat responded by saying he was working quickly to get them out before Election Day.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that the American people get an opportunity to see as much as possible equitably produce,” Pompeo said Wednesday, declining to say why it was vital for the State Department to take such steps three weeks before the election.
Trump has also been open in venting his frustration at the government’s health agencies for allowing regulations to take effect that essentially guarantee a coronavirus vaccine won’t be granted emergency use authorization before November 3. Trump had once openly speculated a vaccine would be available before the election, a prospect whose political upsides he did little to discount.
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