Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state thumbnail

Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state

And in a rare concession to his critics, Trump announced late Saturday that he no longer plans to host the Group of Seven summit of world leaders at his Florida golf club, folding after two days of intense criticism over having picked his own property as the venue for a diplomatic gathering.Many of Trump’s Republican allies revolted over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops in Syria, which triggered a bloody Turkish invasion that killed Kurdish fighters and civilians.Trump bragged about sending a “very powerful letter” warning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to invade Syria. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump wrote. But Turkish officials leaked word that their leader had thrown the letter in the trash, and Erdogan then took Trump to task for his “lack of respect.”“Are we so weak, and so inept diplomatically, that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey?” Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, said in a speech Thursday denouncing Trump’s Syria decision as “a bloodstain in the annals of American history.”Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote an op-ed criticizing the pullout, a rare rebuke of Trump.“America’s wars will be ‘endless’ only if America refuses to win them,” he wrote, referencing Trump’s frequent argument that his critics want to keep U.S. troops abroad indefinitely.Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump “shows strength at all the wrong times, and then when he needs to show strength, he shows abject weakness.”“When he got on the phone call with Erdogan, he was weak as could be,” Schumer said Thursday on MSNBC. “He should have told Erdogan: ‘You can’t do this. America’s not going to let you do this.’ Instead, he green-lights Erdogan, and then a few hours later sends this ranting, rambling letter that shows ersatz toughness — and to show you the effect, Erdogan ignored the letter.”Meanwhile, Trump’s claim of brokering a major trade “deal” with China after months of acrimonious negotiations has been undermined in Beijing, where Chinese officials for the past week have refused to confirm key elements of the supposed agreement — a clear sign of continuing disagreement between the two parties.“It’s deflating when the curtain is pulled back and the Wizard of Oz is a little guy,” said David Axelrod, who served as senior adviser in the Obama White House. “If your whole predicate is strength and everywhere you turn there are signs of weakness, it is a danger.”Axelrod added: “His psyche is invested in this facade of the strongman and yet he seems to be heeled by strongmen.”White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham rejected the notion that Trump’s position has been weakened in recent weeks, writing in an email, “This Administration continues to deliver real results for this country.”Trump has defended his Syria decision, arguing that it was wise for him to teach the Turks and Kurds a lesson in “tough love.” He has also accused House Democrats, as well as the media, of betraying the American people with an impeachment inquiry he argues was designed to overthrow the results of the 2016 election.“The economy’s booming, our people are prospering, our country’s thriving and our nation is stronger than ever before,” Trump told a roaring crowd of 20,000 at a campaign rally Thursday night in Dallas. “But the more America achieves, the more hateful and enraged these crazy Democrats become. Crazy. They’re crazy.”Still, Trump’s supremacy is being challenged inside his own realm. With his administration engulfed by crisis, Trump can no longer control the forces once solidly arrayed behind him.A variety of administration officials, including high-ranking political appointees, have trekked to Capitol Hill to offer damaging revelations during day-long depositions before impeachment investigators.By testifying, these officials have decided to ignore the Trump White House’s unequivocal refusal to participate in a “totally compromised kangaroo court,” effectively ripping off the muzzles the president placed over their mouths.Trump is being humbled by the judiciary as well. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled against the president this month in an extended legal battle over access to his financial data, deciding that Congress
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