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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

President Donald Trump is showing no signs of relenting in his decision to shut down the federal government until Congress is bullied into throwing out the bipartisan funding resolution that passed the Senate two weeks ago and sending him one that includes funding for a border wall.

It is clear that Trump is thoroughly invested in getting his way — and not just because he wants to spend billions on a racist folly that would do nothing for border security. But also because Trump himself seems to consider it a matter of personal appearances.

CNN reports that at a White House meeting with congressional leaders, the president all but admitted to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he would be personally embarrassed if the government reopened without the money he wants for a wall:

After Democrats explained their plan to pass measures funding the government — including the Department of Homeland Security — at least temporarily as negotiations continued, Schumer repeatedly asked Trump why he opposed that approach, the person familiar with the exchange said.

Eventually Schumer asked a third time for one reason Trump wouldn’t accept the offer, and Trump responded: “I would look foolish if I did that.”

For the record, many might argue that preserving Donald Trump’s feelings is not a valid reason to suspend 800,000 federal workers’ pay and let trash pile up in our national parks. Moreover, even if Trump were to prevail, he would still be facing humiliation. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, and he is even now trying to argue that they somehow still are. If Trump actually manages to win the one thing he shut down the government over — congressional funding for his wall — it would fundamentally amount to a betrayal of his core promise.

The fact is, there is no way out of this for Trump that affords him any sort of credibility. He has taken the mantle of a pointless shutdown in favor of a policy that polling says the American people don’t want and that he seems to have no strategy of obtaining. He can no longer avoid looking foolish, because that ship sailed long ago.

 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.