Increasingly Isolated Trump Says He's No RacistBy
The isolation of Donald Trump has kicked into high gear.
The U.S. president last night said he’s “not a racist” as he defended himself to reporters on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, following his comments (which he now disputes) deriding immigration from “shithole countries.”
That characterization provided fodder to the president’s adversaries and has undermined his negotiating clout as partisan strife intensifies over how to keep the federal government running past Friday.
A U.K. Labour Party leader yesterday publicly labeled Trump an “asteroid of awfulness,” part of a wave of global outrage sparked by his remarks.
In the U.S., Senator Jeff Flake, a member of Trump’s Republican party, compared the president’s attacks on the media to former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin after he disputed telling the Wall Street Journal that he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The list of feuds Trump has engaged in is growing. And — with the exception of a circle of trusted aides and surrogates — the list of public figures willing to stand with him in the future may be dwindling.
Not my button | Trump told reporters late yesterday the false alarm about an imminent ballistic missile attack that panicked Hawaii residents Saturday “was a state thing.” The incident, which followed months of saber rattling between Trump and Kim, came amid new signs of strains as the two Koreas met again to discuss the North’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics.
Inner circle in hot seat | Key figures in Trump’s presidential campaign — Stephen Bannon and Corey Lewandowski — are scheduled to testify in the coming week as the U.S. House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 election reaches a crescendo. The planned private sessions are part of a hectic schedule that Democrats fear is being engineered by Republicans keen to end the probe.
May’s latest nightmare | The unraveling of a U.K. government contractor involved in everything from hospitals to the HS2 high-speed rail project is the latest headache for Prime Minister Theresa May. With the National Health Service’s problems dominating media coverage, it makes her vulnerable to criticism about the kind of private and public partnerships that have been a fixture in Britain for decades. Some in the opposition are already calling Carillion the British Enron.
More than an iron fist | Alongside the show of force this month as Iran reacted to anti-government protests was an unexpected development — debate over what even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei saw as “rightful” grievances. As Ladane Nasseri writes, a more nuanced approach to that adopted during 2009 demonstrations reflected less threatening rallies. But it also showed how greater tolerance of dissent under President Hassan Rouhani is slowly changing society.
Mideast stalemate | With Washington set to decide later today whether to cut aid to the UN agency that takes care of Palestinian refugees, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said his people will “slap back” for the humiliation they’ve suffered from the Trump administration — and that other international players must replace the U.S. in any future peace talks.
And finally … As the fight for racial equality takes on new urgency in the U.S., a survey by Bloomberg Law shows Americans are more likely to get a day off in honor of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. than they are for holidays remembering Christopher Columbus or George Washington. N. Charles Anderson, the chief executive officer of the Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, says that’s probably because “there’s more recognition for the need of diversity” and the sensitivity of certain holidays.
— With assistance by Mark Williams