WASHINGTON – A week ago, President Donald Trump stood before the nation and called for a new era of bipartisan cooperation.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” he said, extolling how the country had come together in recent times of tragedy.
Now such talk is but a memory. With the special investigation into Russian election meddling continuing and Trump’s 2018 agenda in Congress already stalled, the president has turned his ire on Democrats, insulting their leaders and chastising them for failing to go along with his plans. The escalating rhetoric is making it even harder to imagine the two sides coming together to reach deals on a long list of thorny issues, like extending protections for young immigrants and paying for the government for longer than several weeks at a time.
The rhetoric reached new heights on Monday when Trump accused Democrats of being “un-American” and maybe even “treasonous” for failing to show enthusiasm during his State of the Union speech, while Republicans went “totally crazy, wild, they loved everything.” Trump described Democrats as refusing to applaud even positive news, and said they’d prefer to see him do badly than the country do well.
“Can we call that treason? Why not?” he asked, lobbing an extraordinary accusation. “They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much,” Trump added.
Trump also accused the party of not wanting to secure the nation’s borders.
“They don’t care about the security of our country,” he said. “They don’t care about MS-13 killers pouring into our country.” That was a reference to a violent street gang.
It was a significant departure from the night a week ago when Trump talked of “extending an open hand to work with members of both parties – Democrats and Republicans – to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed,” all while pushing an immigration plan that Democrats have rejected as a nonstarter.
Trump’s plan would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young people living in the country illegally, in exchange for billions for his promised border wall and immigration enforcement, as well as major cuts to legal immigration that Democrats say they can’t get behind.
Trump has tried to put the onus on Democrats for failing to embrace his plans.
In tweets the morning after his speech, Trump said Democrats were doing nothing to help the young immigrants, whose protection from deportation and ability to work in the country Trump put in jeopardy last year.
“They Resist, Blame, Complain and Obstruct – and do nothing,” Trump complained, adding: “We have a great chance to make a deal or, blame the Dems!”
The criticism continued throughout the week.
In evening remarks to Republican Party leaders and donors Thursday, Trump accused Democrats of being “missing in action” and not wanting to pass immigration legislation so they can use the issue as a wedge in the 2018 midterm elections. He continued to hammer away at the message Friday, telling top Homeland Security personnel he didn’t think Democrats wanted to reach a deal on the young immigrants.
Trump’s frustrations appeared to intensify Monday when he turned his ire on California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, which has been probing potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides. Trump called Schiff “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington” and said he “Must be stopped!”
But his angriest comments came during what should have been a feel-good speech in Ohio about the tax cuts he signed into law last year.
Instead, Trump complained that Democrats had refused to applaud his accomplishments during his State of the Union speech and went after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for comparing the bonuses some workers have received as a result of the tax cuts to “crumbs.”
“Well, she’s a rich woman who lives in a big, beautiful house in California who wants to give all of your money away,” Trump said. He equated the comment with 2016 rival Hillary Clinton’s description of some of his supporters “deplorables.”
“She’s our secret weapon,” he went on to say of Pelosi, and asked how he was supposed to be able to make a deal with her.
Democrats, meanwhile, accused Trump of trying to distract from the stock market’s nosedive Monday, when a wave of fear about inflation and higher interest rates sent stock prices down more than 1,100 points in the Dow Jones industrial average.
Pelosi tweeted: “Every American should be alarmed by how (at)realDonaldTrump is working to make loyalty to him synonymous with loyalty to our country. That is not how democracy works.”
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.