Trump's authority crisis deepens

Donald Trump is making an aggr...

Posted: Sep 11, 2018 7:47 AM
Updated: Sep 11, 2018 7:47 AM

Donald Trump is making an aggressive effort to stem the crisis of authority afflicting his presidency at a critical moment.

With midterm elections looming, he's facing new questions about his fitness for office, and he's hunting a hidden rebel within his own camp.

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The President took immediate steps to address the situation on Monday, hitting out at Bob Woodward's new book, which, along with an op-ed by an anonymous senior official in the New York Times, presents a devastating picture of his performance.

"The Woodward book is a Joke - just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources..." Trump tweeted.

"Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can't stand losing. I'll write the real book!"

Typifying the sense that what would once seem absurd now counts for normality in this White House, Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday offered to take a lie detector test to prove he was not the author of the op-ed which assailed Trump for "half baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless" leadership.

Pence and the President's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, tried to put the spotlight on the motives of the anonymous official, warning that there could be "criminal" dimensions to the op-ed, boosting Trump's calls for a Justice Department investigation.

But the controversy is unlikely to ease in the week ahead. Woodward's new book is due to be published on Tuesday, and the veteran journalist is promoting his damning account of the President's leadership.

"People better wake up to what's going on," Woodward said on CBS's "Sunday Morning" while touting "Fear: Trump in the White House" as a detailed inside account that mirrors the op-ed's claims that a group of senior officials is working to save the nation and the world from Trump's rash decisions.

If the version of events revealed by Woodward and the anonymous official is true, America is facing a deeply dysfunctional presidency and crisis of governance with no parallel in modern history, apart, perhaps, from the paranoid final days of the Nixon administration.

According to these accounts, the President of the United States would appear to be deeply unsuited to his responsibilities, uninterested in the details of policy, lacking knowledge, and in the words of the anonymous senior official, "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective."

Such a state of affairs would leave the country with a leadership void in the Oval Office and compromise the effectiveness of government. It would also tarnish America's image in the world and could offer openings to adversaries if the White House is constantly distracted.

But the idea that there is a core of "adults in the room," as described by the op-ed writer, subverting the President's authority and wielding for themselves the power granted to the commander-in-chief during an election season should also be a troubling one, since it raises questions about the integrity of America's democratic system itself.

The counter punches

Following days in which the White House was in a defensive crouch, Conway and Pence fought back on political talk shows Sunday after sources told CNN the administration had narrowed its suspicions over who wrote the article to a few individuals.

"To the President's point, there could be a national security risk at hand; he doesn't want this person in a meeting where he's discussing China, Russia, North Korea," Conway told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

She said there could be a criminal aspect to the writing of the opinion piece -- though she was unable to say exactly how the author might have broken the law when it appears that the act of disloyalty amounted to exercising the right to free expression.

"I have really no idea, nor do you, what else this person has divulged," Conway told Tapper. "I think somebody so cowardly and so conceited would probably go a step further."

On "Fox News Sunday," Pence was asked whether senior officials should take lie detector tests to prove they did not write the explosive opinion piece in the Times.

"I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and submit to any review the administration wanted to do," Pence said.

The Vice President also argued that the author of the Times article was guilty of more than just disloyalty.

"The honorable thing to do here is for this individual to recognize that they are literally violating an oath. If they are that senior administration official, they are violating an oath not to the President, but to the Constitution."

Pence appeared to be arguing that by showing such disloyalty to the President and even whispering about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him, the "resistance" the op-ed writer mentions is subverting the democratic process.

But those who have praised the actions of the op-ed writer, and officials mentioned in Woodward's book who appear to be acting to contain an impulsive President, counter that senior officials may be acting to protect the Constitution itself from Trump's attacks.

Trump's calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the author of the Times article have renewed fears about the President's expansive view of executive power. After all, he is effectively calling for the government's instruments of criminal investigation to be brought to bear against someone who has committed no obvious crime.

"Does this President not understand that the Justice Department is not a tool of his own personal power?" Virginia Sen. Mark Warner asked Sunday on "State of the Union."

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, meanwhile, warned that the incessant chaos at the White House was distracting from crucial problems.

"I don't have any desire to beat this President up, but it's pretty clear that this White House is a reality-show, soap-opera presidency," Sasse, a frequent Trump critic said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"What you'd like is the President to not worry so much about the short term of staffing, but the long term of vision-casting for America, pull us together as a people, help us deliberate about where we should go and then build a team of great, big-cause, low-ego people around you," he said.

November is coming

The fresh uproar at the White House and questions about Trump's leadership style and personality could not come at a worse time for Republicans, with less than two months to go before midterm elections in which Democrats hope to cripple his presidency by winning the House of Representatives.

Some pundits are now beginning to wonder if Democrats have a narrow path to victory in the Senate as well.

Any sense of demoralization that sets in amid GOP voters could dampen their turnout in the election, one reason why Trump is stepping up his campaign swings through red states and imploring his loyal base to turn out in record numbers.

One top Trump aide, budget chief Mick Mulvaney, warned behind closed doors on Saturday that even GOP candidates such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could be at risk of losing and were not "likable" enough, The New York Times reported.

Mulvaney made his comments, according to the Times, at a meeting with party donors alongside Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. The Times said a person at the private event provided the paper with an audio recording of Mulvaney's remarks.

Trump however is adamant that there will not be a "blue wave" of Democratic victories, but a Republican tide in November, based on the strong economy and what he claims is the record-breaking performance of his administration.

"Republicans are doing really well with the Senate Midterms. Races that we were not even thinking about winning are now very close, or even leading," the President said in a late Saturday evening tweet. "Election night will be very interesting indeed!"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
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Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
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Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
Lorain32165539
Warren30497338
Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
Putnam4909107
Guernsey487664
Williams469982
Perry464454
Champaign454964
Ottawa443584
Jackson436663
Pike400745
Morrow398251
Coshocton393669
Fayette385053
Adams371575
Hardin367570
Gallia356658
Holmes3326111
Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
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