WASHINGTON - It was another landmark week in the presidency of Donald Trump. He hosted key U.S. allies Emmanuel Macron of France and Angela Merkel of Germany; but, he also had to weather more turmoil in his Cabinet as well as the ongoing Russia investigation and intensifying scrutiny of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
What might be an extraordinary week for another president has quickly become “situation normal” for the man elected as the nation’s 45th chief executive.
Trump wound up his chaotic week Friday by meeting with German Chancellor Merkel. During an Oval Office photo opportunity, Trump was eager to embrace a report from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“It was a great report. No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing,” said Trump with Merkel looking on. “It is a witch hunt. That is all it is. No collusion with Russia, if you can believe this one.”
Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement criticizing the Republican conclusions. Schiff asserted the committee did find evidence of collusion in “secret meetings and communications” between Trump campaign officials and others with links to the Russian government. The matter remains the focus of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Earlier in the week, Trump bonded with French President Macron during a formal state visit that was noted for the warm physical interactions between the two leaders.
“He is going to be an outstanding president. One of your great presidents and it is an honor to call you my friend. Thank you,” Trump told Macron at the end of their joint news conference.
Trump also received more good news this week when his choice for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, finally won Senate confirmation.
There were, however, some significant setbacks as well, including the withdrawal of Ronny Jackson as the next head of the Department of Veterans Affairs and intense congressional scrutiny of embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt, under fire for allegedly misspending government funds.
It was yet another week of dramatic ups and downs that have become a regular feature of the Trump White House.
“I don’t think it is that he thrives on chaos. He creates chaos and this is what the White House has been about and what Washington has been about,” said analyst Jim Kessler with the centrist Democratic group Third Way.
WATCHL Merkel, Macron and Cabinet Turmoil — Just Another Week at the Trump White House
In addition to the Russia probe, the legal problems confronting Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, continue to cast a shadow over the administration, according to John Fortier with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
“It’s an up and down week. It’s always a very exciting time with Donald Trump, but certainly the circus atmosphere of the appointments and the scandal is often coming back into play.”
Both Fortier and Kessler are the guests this week on VOA’s “Encounter” radio program.
Kessler said Trump is hoping that the good news about improving relations between North Korea and South Korea and his close friendship with Macron will overshadow the setbacks.
“Trump felt good about bonding with Macron and Macron elevated himself on the world stage. So in that way, this was a good week for Donald Trump despite all the bad things that happened to him,” Kessler said.
At a joint news conference Friday with Merkel, Trump congratulated the leaders of North Korea and South Korea after their summit. He also said the U.S. will continue to exert “maximum pressure” on North Korea until denuclearization takes place.
A new Quinnipiac University poll this week found that U.S. voters approve of Trump’s handling of the North Korea issue by a margin of 52 percent to 42 percent. Trump’s overall approval rating in the same poll was 39 percent favorable, 54 percent unfavorable.
Ever the showman, Trump found time late in the week to lead a tour for the children of White House reporters.