White House

Trump to face reporters after 5 days of silence and a run of bad news

Previous spans of silence have ended with eruptions from POTUS

President Donald Trump, after a five-day break, will face reporters’ questions Wednesday afternoon. Such silence spans have ended with presidential eruptions since he took office. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS - “Just another quiet day at the White House,” a reporter said to a Roll Call scribe as they left the executive campus Tuesday evening. “Too quiet,” the Roll Call reporter responded, adding: “Can’t last much longer.” The first reporter nodded knowingly and said, “Yeah...”

More than a bit out of character, President Donald Trump has not uttered a word in public since Friday. That is scheduled to change Wednesday afternoon — and anything could happen.

If past is yet again prologue with the 45th president, he could have plenty to say when reporters are allowed into a briefing on drug trafficking at the U.S.-southern border event just before 2 p.m. He essentially has gone dark before, sometimes for as many (five) days and sometimes a bit longer, amid a run of bad news.

Since he spoke Friday on the South Lawn of the White House before he toured tornado-savaged Alabama, Bill Shine, his fifth (Sean Spicer held the post twice) communications director left — the latest high-profile departure of a senior West Wing aide or Cabinet official. And there have been uproars over his comments about Democrats and Jewish people, and his latest public spat with former fixer Michael Cohen.

Here are three things to watch when POTUS re-emerges.

Assignment editor

Trump often uses morning tweets to drive the day’s news narrative, leading cable news outlets to cover his posts at least part of the day and reporters to ask lawmakers for their reactions, which fuels more cable coverage. He often does just this on days he is scheduled to be in the same room as reporters and cameras, as he will be later Wednesday.

He thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in one for her stating flatly she is against starting impeachment proceedings against him. In another, he said new revelations about texts from former FBI attorney Lisa Page “make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine.”

He could face questions, and sound off, about either — or both.

MAX 8 matter

A number of countries and the European Union have grounded Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 airliners after a second one crashed shortly after takeoff, this time Sunday in Ethiopia.

But the White House has been mostly mum about what, if anything, Trump wants the defense-aerospace giant to do. A source said he spoke to CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday morning. But the White House never issued guidance or a statement about the call, or anything Trump asked him to do short of grounding the planes operating in the United States.

Some notable lawmakers, including GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, have called for the Federal Aviation Administration to get the MAX 8s on the ground — but Trump, so far, is holding out.

‘Democrats hate Jewish people’

Trump on Friday told reporters that recent controversial remarks about the influence of Jewish donors on politicians by freshman Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comments show “the Democrats have become an anti-Israel party” and an “anti-Jewish party.”

During a weekend fundraiser at his resort in Florida, Axios reported the president was even more blunt, saying flatly he believes “Democrats hate Jewish people.” His top spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, on Monday would not say that the president does not really believe that all Democrats are anti-semitic.

The planned pool spray will be his first chance to answer questions about his comments.

Cohen & Manafort

As Trump returned to the White House Sunday evening after a weekend at his South Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, a Roll Call reporter shouted a question about whether he is lying about Cohen asking him, in the president’s words, “directly” for a pardon. But Trump only glanced in the reporter’s direction opting against answering the question.

As he traveled on Air Force One Friday morning to meet with tornado victims, Trump tweeted that Cohen lied to the House Oversight and Reform Committee when he said he never asked the president for a pardon. Cohen followed up with his own post, saying his former boss is the one lying.

Both have uttered falsehoods before. The president could get the next word in their legal and rhetorical battle. Oh, and there’s also former 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is set to be sentenced again on Wednesday morning in the District of Columbia.

Manafort was sentenced by a federal judge to four years in prison Thursday, on charges that were not related to Russian collusion in the 2016 election.

Trump said Friday he feels “very badly” for Manafort, raising the possibility a pardon for the former political operative could be ahead.

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