- President Donald Trump has ditched a number of planned activities and exhibited intense spurts of anger since his party lost seats in the midterms.
- He was widely mocked for missing a World War I memorial event because of rain.
- He’s been visibly angry in conversations with the press since the midterms – and reportedly testy with other world leaders.
- On Twitter, Trump mocked French President Emmanuel Macron and the French people’s performance during World War II, and he attacked the legitimacy of US elections.
President Donald Trump has ditched a number of planned activities and exhibited intense spurts of anger over the past few weeks as he laments his party’s midterm losses and his embarrassment over being mocked for skipping an important World War I memorial in Paris because of light rainfall.
Eyeing an incoming Democratic-majority House of Representatives that can subpoena and investigate him at will, “Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment,” the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a number of sources familiar with the president.
Trump’s reported brooding anger coincides with his cancelling a number of his presidential outings and activities, while lashing out at allies on Twitter.
Trump visibly, palpably angry
As soon as the midterms passed, Trump began to appear angry in public appearances.
He held a testy press conference that led to the White House taking press credentials away from Jim Acosta after the CNN anchor challenged Trump on immigration.
Trump then dismissed his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker – widely seen as a Trump loyalist who has repeatedly questioned the Russia probe.
Asked by CNN reporter Abby Phillip if he hoped Whitaker would “rein in” the investigation, a visibly fuming Trump snapped. “What a stupid question that is,” Trump said. “You ask a lot of stupid questions.”
As Trump left for Paris over the weekend to meet with other world leaders and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he was feeling personally insulted by his host, French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has been pushing for “a real European army,” and said it would defend Europe against the US, which Trump called “very insulting” before departing for France on Friday.
When UK Prime Minister Theresa May called Trump to congratulate him on Republican wins in the midterms, the president reportedly snapped at her about a variety of unrelated topics, The Washington Post reported.
“He was frustrated with the trip. And he’s itching to make some changes,” a senior White House official told The Post. “This is a week where things could get really dicey.”
Disappointment over the elections preceded the biggest story of Trump’s trip to Paris: The fact that he skipped a once-in-a-century chance to honour fallen World War I veterans because of light rainfall.
The White House blamed the president’s no-show on poor visibility conditions that precluded a helicopter flight to the cemetery, and also a desire to not to exacerbate Paris’ grinding traffic. Still, Trump seemed unsatisfied with the response.
After being mocked by former Secretary of State John Kerry, former National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and perhaps even the French army, Trump once again defended his absence, saying the Secret Service turned him down even though he wanted to attend the memorial
The rest of his Paris trip didn’t go much better.
Macron rebuked Trump’s nationalist politics to his face during a speech in Paris. The two reportedly had a testy meeting where not much got done and Trump aired old grievances, The Post said.
Trump missing in action
On Monday, upon returning from Paris, the White House called an unusually early “lid” at 10:30 a.m. – meaning Trump wouldn’t do any more scheduled activities or public appearances for the rest of the day.
As a result Trump skipped travelling to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a presidential Veterans Day tradition since John F. Kennedy. The French embassy in the US did make the trip.
By the time the lid came into effect, Trump had already attacked the legitimacy of US elections in Florida and floated the possibility of pulling the US out of NATO if his European allies, whom he’d met with the day before, didn’t pay up.
Trump’s NATO scepticism is old news, as he campaigned on getting NATO allies to spend more on defence, but this round of criticism took on a notably personal tone.
On Tuesday, Trump mocked France’s surrender to Nazi Germany in World War II and Macron’s low approval ratings while making the vague demand that they pay for NATO “or not!”
Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, is touring Asia and will attend large summits populated by the region’s top leadership. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, not Trump, will visit US troops stationed at the country’s southern border in preparation for the arrival of a caravan of migrants expected to arrive in the coming days.
During the campaign, an energetic Trump travelled the country to campaign for Republicans, sometimes holding more than one rally a day. He made his opposition to this caravan a key point of his campaigning.
Since the election, where Trump actually didn’t fare too badly, he’s dropped the subject of the caravan almost entirely.