Donald Trump’s top advisers try to cheer up the sulking commander in chief by reminding him of their looming plan to endanger the lives of some of the most desperate and vulnerable people on earth.
That fact comes to us not from Trump’s political opponents or some nefarious conspiracy of “Obama holdovers” in the “deep state,” but from Trump’s closest friends and allies in politics.
This weekend was a bonanza of gossipy scoops from inside the White House, including Politico’s “Knives are out for Reince,” CNN’s “Trump angry and frustrated at staff over Sessions fallout,” and ABC News’s “Trump flashes anger over Sessions recusal, Russia stories in tense Oval Office meeting.” But it’s the Washington Post’s entrance into the genre, by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Ashley Parker, that delivers the single most chilling anecdote.
Like the other stories, it goes over Trump’s bad mood — he’s angry that Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into ties to Russia, he’s paranoid about leaks, and he’s upset that more people aren’t backing up his evidence-free accusation about Barack Obama ordering Trump Tower bugged.
That night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had dinner with Sessions, Bannon, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, among others. They tried to put Trump in a better mood by going over their implementation plans for the travel ban, according to a White House official.
Obviously we don’t know the full details of version 3.0 of what originated as Trump’s campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
But the upshot is that a great deal of hardship will be inflicted on some fairly broad categories of people. And there’s no denying that the vast majority of the hardship will be inflicted on people who are not terrorists and who pose no national security risk to the United States. There will be direct hardship on people barred from entering this country, and indirect hardship on their friends and family already here. Most of all, there will be intense hardship visited upon refugees who would, if not for Trump, be candidates for resettlement in the United States of America.
These are the most vulnerable people in the world we are talking about. And when whatever the order says exactly faces legal challenges — which it surely will — the government’s lawyers will argue that this cruel act was needed to protect American citizens from terrorism.
Yet here we have an official of Trump’s own government telling the Washington Post that the details were hashed out over dinner, with the president’s chief political strategist in attendance but his national security adviser absent, at a lavish $200,000 initiation fee private beach club, with the purpose of brightening the president’s mood. Trump has had his share of frustrations over the course of his young presidency, but this is the part he finds fun.