The White House is intending this to be “Infrastructure Week,” focusing on its trillion-dollar plan to improve America’s outdated transportation system. But that itinerary seemed to be quickly derailed, just hours into the new week, as President Donald Trump himself detoured from the plan with a series of fresh provocative tweets.
In a three-hour period on Monday morning, the president took aim at the Democrats for not approving his nominees; criticized U.S. courts for suspending his travel ban, and denounced the mayor of London, mischaracterizing Sadiq Khan’s “no reason to be alarmed” quote in the wake of the London attacks.
The tweets, which in some cases undermine or distract from the president’s own stated agenda, have been a source of frustration for even some of his closest supporters.
As of now, those tweets posted by the president to his personal @realDonaldTrump account are not pre-screened.
“Not that I’m aware of,” answered Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked if the tweets are being vetted by a lawyer or aide.
“I think social media for the president is extremely important,” explained Sanders. “It gives him the ability to speak directly to the people without the bias of the media filtering those types of communications.”
Sanders criticized reporters for what she described as “the obsession over every detail of the president’s tweets.”
The White House on Monday wanted the headlines to primarily be about the plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.
The president’s only public appearance for the day was at a White House event announcing and signing the Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative, which he declared is the “first important step to clearing the runway for more jobs, lower prices and much, much, much better transportation.” But by the time he announced it, the White House was again experiencing turbulence due to the earlier Trump tweets.
Programming on some cable news networks was more focused on the president’s travel ban tweets in which he criticized his own Justice Department for the revised measure he characterized as “watered down” and “politically correct.”
The tweets — a continuation of earlier ones by Trump in the wake of the Saturday night terrorist attack in London in which seven people died — also criticized London’s mayor.
“Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!” said the president on Twitter. MSM referred to mainstream media.
Social media users pointed out that Khan was referring to an increased police presence, not the attack itself.
The mayor of New York City came to Khan’s defense. Bill de Blasio tweeted that his London counterpart is “doing an extraordinary job supporting Londoners in a time of pain. President Trump’s attack on him is unacceptable.”
An “Infrastructure Week” presidential trip Wednesday to Cincinnati to highlight plans to upgrade inland waterways crucial to agricultural exports will come just a day before fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey is to testify publicly before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Comey will be asked what Trump told him about the federal investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the retired Army lieutenant general’s ties to Russia.
Another headline grabber Monday was the White House confirming the president “will not exert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”
That means by Friday, “Infrastructure Week” may have a different name for the history books.