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Trump struggles to adjust to crisis presidency

President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on March 22. Photo: AP

President Donald Trump has never been known for his patience or long attention span.

Now, as the coronavirus crisis threatens his presidency, and upends his campaign for reelection, Trump is rapidly losing patience with the medical professionals who have made the case day after day that the only way to prevent a catastrophic loss of life is to essentially shut down the country — to minimize transmission and “flatten the curve” so hospitals aren't overwhelmed with critical patients.

The president also has been furious that his efforts to halt the harrowing drop in the stock market have so far proven ineffective. He has been calling friends and economists at all hours and berated aides and reporters who try to persuade him to recognize the severity of the outbreak.

Beyond the crisis, he has been agitated that he can't run the campaign he wants against Democrat Joe Biden, and he has used daily, hour-long briefings as near proxies for his campaign rallies, guaranteed to attract attention and to maintain the backing of his fervent political case.

This account is based on interviews with a dozen White House aides, former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In a sign of his growing restiveness, Trump tweeted just before midnight Sunday:


He followed up early Monday with a series of retweets that seemed to endorse re-opening American society upon the conclusion of the initial 15-day restrictions, meant to slow the spread of the virus, next week.

It reflected the view from a growing number senior administration officials who believe the closing of the economy was too harsh but also would directly contradict the advice of health experts, a bipartisan group of governors and mayors and potentially set up a confrontation with his own medical advisers, including top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.

Trump tried to minimize the threat of the virus from the outset and in recent days has vacillated between acknowledging the crisis and suggesting that it would all soon be over.

With his Mar-a-Lago club shuttered and his frequent trips to the golf course now off limits, Trump has been largely stuck in the White House. Even in good times, other presidents have likened life in the White House to being like prison.

For Trump, that feeling is magnified by walling himself off during the crisis. Unable to travel and unsure of what to do, he's been crashing West Wing meetings, often forcing staffers to hurriedly adjust agendas as the president frequently gets in the way of health professionals trying to chart a course of action.

While some around him have suggested that he should only appear when there is big news to announce, Trump has been missing the spotlight and has told people that he knows the nation is watching the briefings and doesn’t want to give up the stage.

On Sunday, he asked the briefing, originally slated for 4:30 p.m. to be pushed back later into the evening, when more people would be watching — including those tuning in for “60 Minutes,” the president's favorite broadcast news magazine.

Trump has rebuked reporters whose questions he does not like, and behind closed doors, it has been much the same. The president has snapped at aides delivering news that contradicts his relentless belief the crisis will be resolved soon.

Upon his return from a trip to India last month, Trump lit into aides about Dr Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who had provided a dire warning about the virus' potential impact. He chided Vice President Mike Pence in a West Wing meeting for defending Washington Gov Jay Inslee, a one-time Democratic presidential contender, for his handling of the crisis. And he angrily upbraided medical providers who called on his administration to do more, saying they should be upset instead with their local leadership.

And he has railed against journalists for investigating his sluggish response, driven, in part, by a desire to discredit the media at a time when he knows the headlines are only going to get worse.

“I watch and listen to the Fake News, CNN, MSDNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, some of FOX (desperately & foolishly pleading to be politically correct), the @nytimes, & the @washingtonpost, and all I see is hatred of me at any cost,” he tweeted over the weekend. “Don’t they understand that they are destroying themselves?”

That line has been picked up by others in the administration who also made clear that they don't see value in reporters digging into how the administration prepared for the looming crisis.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate right now for the press to be going backwards," echoed White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “There’s no reason to go backwards and figure out tick-tocks of what happened when. We’ve got a crisis on our hands, we’ve got a coronavirus in this country, and the press should -- they’ve got a real also spread great information to this public and give information that our task force is trying to get out there.”

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Mere weeks ago, Trump and his reelection campaign had planned to use his massive financial advantage to try to define his opponent to the public in the race's early months, much like former President Barack Obama did to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.

Trump had planned to frame the race as a contest between a decisive president who had ushered in an economic golden age, versus either an avowed socialist like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or a creature of the Washington establishment, Biden, who was struggling to raise money or enthusiasm.

But instead of facing a wounded Democrat at the end of a drawn-out nomination fight, an emboldened Biden has emerged as his party's clear front-runner, having coalesced much of the party around him while addressing his cash shortage. And now Trump is staring at a recession, a potentially lethal political blow for any incumbent, but particularly one who has so tethered his fortunes to the stock market and a once buoyant economy.

Unable to hold his rallies, Trump has lost his favorite outlet and deprived his campaign of compiling valuable voter data. And while his campaign's war chest remains robust, any sort of TV ad campaign has been sidelined, though anti-Biden digital spots are still being produced and aides have expressed surprise and relief that the former vice president has largely ceded Trump the spotlight the last two weeks.

With no chance of any trips anytime soon aboard Air Force One, where Trump often spends his time talking out campaign strategy and socializing with old friends and allies, he's unleashed his anger on Twitter — including at Democratic governors who dare criticize him — and has been on the phone constantly, peppering people with calls.

In recent days, the president tried to reach one economist late at night but the person slept through multiple calls.

So Trump just kept calling. Eventually, the economist woke up.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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May trump should get the message that god and the good humans are sending a message to him. Leave yr time is up. Everyone can see trump more clearly now. he does not care abt americans or their health, he cares abt his own pocket.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Trump struggles to adjust to crisis presidency

What a load of rubbish. He's doing a good job.

Trump, Coronavirus Task Force answer questions in press conference

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Yes, he is doing such a tremendous, great, outstanding, never seen job.

Telling people to get back to work despite professional advice not to do so.

He doesn't care about those Smiths, Millers and so many other names.

He worries about the Trump-Empire, that's all he ever did and all he will ever do.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

When the statistics are examined regarding the Coronavirus infections, most people under the age of 30 are hardly affected, those aged between 30 and 60 percentages are still pretty low, while those above 60 or have certain medical conditions have the highest risk rate so why isn't the priority to protect those people rather than shutting down whole economies. An extended shut down is gonna cause more problems than the virus will - suicides will be up, so will domestics, divorces will rise and afterwards most likely a levy will be placed on everyone certainly in Western Economies to pay off this massive debt.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Trump struggles. The rest of the headline is superfluous.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He is also causing people's deaths!

People are dying after self-medicating with unproven COVID-19 drug promoted by Trump

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Silvan, what the person took was NOT what Trump was referring to! Stop watching CNN!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The current occupant of the White House is mainly concerned about his reelection in November.

It’s all about him ... “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

TARA TAN KITAOKAMar. 25 03:01 pm JSTMay trump should get the message that god and the good humans are sending a message to him. Leave yr time is up. Everyone can see trump more clearly now. he does not care abt americans or their health, he cares abt his own pocket.

It just further shows what was obvious all along. He doesn't have what it takes to President. He ain't worthy or educated or experienced enough to govern a trash can. And he claimed last year to be the 'Chosen One', the Messiah. Some messiah he's turned out to be!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

People are dying after self-medicating with unproven COVID-19 drug promoted by Trump

Sigh. I'm afraid you've fallen victim to the lying media. Watch this and get the real story -

If President Trump is for it, the media is against it, even if it might save American lives

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Serrano -

I remember Trump assuring us all about exactly a month ago that "when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done".

That was Feb 26th.

Today's US figures: 69,223 infected, 1,054 dead.

I'm not sure even you would be able to class that as a "pretty good job".

The man is a clown, waaaay out of his depth, and every time he opens his ignorant mouth he makes everything worse.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Struggling? The man haven't got a clue! (No news there...) He is only thinking about himself, his business and his friends business, everything else is not worth his attention. That man have been a total disaster for the US and I can just hope he will be replaced by ANYONE because no one can do a worse job out of it than that gigant baby have already.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

83,000 virus victims. 13-20% unemployment coming. Economy tanking. The Trump campaign could have its own virus come November.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Struggling, it definitely is a challenge, a threat to his Presidency? Only if he drops the ball on this. Now in the beginning, he did botch it a bit, but now has a firmer and more realistic grip on this and because of that, his poll numbers overall as well as handling this crisis since getting back on track is and continues to move up and add to that the continuous Biden gaffes and they’re coming faster and more frequently now, it’s just going to be next to impossible that Biden won’t make it. He’ll get so hammered by Trump, there is no way he’s going to go easy on him and not to mention those debates aren’t 7 minutes. If it goes on for an hour Biden can’t and won’t be able to handle that.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yeah, this is “botching it a bit”:

Donny shut down the entire Global Health Security and Bio-defense agency.

In 2018, Donny fired Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossart, whose job was to coordinate a response to global pandemics. He was not replaced.

In 2018, Dr. Luciana Borio, the NSC director for medical and bio-defense preparedness left the job. Donny did not replace Dr. Borio.

In 2018, at Donny’s direction, the CDC stopped funding epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries including China.

In 2019, the NSC’s Senior Director for Global Health Security and bio-defense, Tim Ziemer, left the position and Donny did not replace the Rear Admiral.

Donny declined to use the World Health Organization’s test like other nations. Back in January, over a month before the first Co-vid19 case in the U.S., the Chinese posted a new mysterious virus and within a week, Berlin virologists had produced the first diagnostic test. By the end of February, the WHO had shipped out tests to 60 countries. Oh, but not our government. Donny declined the test even as a temporary bridge until the CDC could create its own test.

Amid the explosive worldwide outbreak of the virus Donny proposed a 19% cut to the budget of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention plus a 10% cut to Public Health Services and a 7% cut to Global Health Services. Those happen to be the organizations that responds to public health threats.

Donny didn’t appoint a doctor to oversee the US response to the pandemic. He appointed Mike Pence - a religious fundamentalist whose acceptance of science is questionable at best.

Donny has on multiple occasions sowed doubt about the severity of the virus even using the word HOAX at events and rallies. He even did it at an event where the virus was being spread. Trump has put out zero useful information concerning the health risks of the virus.

Donny pretended the virus had been contained.

Donny left a cruise ship at sea for days, denying them proper hospital care, rather than increase his numbers in America.

Just slightly botching it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Trump's legacy will be tainted by his impeachment and now his dealing with the virus

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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