The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
So who persuaded President Trump to reverse his plan to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at one of his properties?
According to the New York Times and the Washington Post, it was criticism from fellow Republicans that caused Trump to change course after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced on Thursday that the June 2020 G-7 summit would be held at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.
The Post story, citing “several aides and allies” of the president, said that “Trump changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from his own party.”
You can almost hear Trump shouting “Fake News!” And, sure enough, he is sticking to his own improbable explanation for his flip-flop: The Democrats and the media made him do it!
When he announced on Saturday night that he was changing his mind, Trump tweeted that he was responding to “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.” On Monday he doubled down on this explanation, tweeting: “Doral in Miami would have been the best place to hold the G-7, and free, but too much heat from the Do Nothing Radical Left Democrats & their Partner, the Fake News Media!”
(During a Cabinet meeting on Monday, he also took aim at the “phony Emoluments Clause,” an apparent reference to a provision in the Constitution that prohibits federal officials from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever” from any “king, prince or foreign state” without congressional authorization. A different constitutional provision prohibits the president from receiving payments of any kind from the federal or state governments.)
“The Democrats made me do it” is an odd explanation coming from Trump. Since when has he allowed Democrats and the “Fake News” media to dictate his actions? Why couldn’t he acknowledge the obvious fact that he was taking heat from members of his own party?
It may seem a small thing, but Trump’s incredible explanation of why he changed his mind about the G-7 venue is a reminder that he has a richly deserved reputation for not telling the truth.
Whether the subject is why he caved on the G-7 or whether he asked his former White House counsel to arrange the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III (Trump denied the claim), lots of people simply won’t believe him.
That cavernous credibility gap could prove a problem as the president and his defenders argue in the House impeachment inquiry that he’s telling the truth about his now famous July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. That’s the call in which, after noting that “we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump suggested that the Ukrainians investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to a “fact sheet” released Monday by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, the call was part of a “shakedown” by Trump designed to involve a foreign government in the 2020 presidential election for Trump’s benefit.
Trump insists that the conversation was “perfect” and that he was motivated by an apolitical desire to root out corruption. He also denied that he was floating a quid pro quo according to which Ukraine would investigate Biden in exchange for a release of U.S. military aid. (Mulvaney undermined that defense with his “Get Over It” press briefing Thursday.)
Trump’s benign characterization of the Zelenskiy call would be a hard sell in any case. It’s especially likely to encounter skepticism because of Trump’s history of stretching the truth, often to the breaking point, in matters large and small.