The White House late Tuesday morning mysteriously canceled the “daily” press briefing after Monday’s absolutely disastrous one held by Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. No reason was given for the cancellation.
But the Trump White House is facing even greater scrutiny this week than usual. Due today is the President’s formal disclosure, mandated by law, of any “liabilities that exceeded $10,000 at any time during calendar year 2017.” That would include any payments made to Stormy Daniels or any other potential payments to any other possible mistresses.
Trump is also under heightened scrutiny and facing increasing outrage over his astonishingly tone-deaf tweets in support of a Chinese cell phone manufacturing giant that the U.S. government banned from selling its goods. Trump promised to lift sanctions that he says are putting ZTE out of business. ZTE has been identified as violating American trade controls against Iran and North Korea and accused of engaging in cyber espionage against Americans.
Also odd is the First Lady’s sudden kidney surgery on Monday, which the President did not attend. The White House is refusing to discuss it, other than to issue a short press release. An administration spokesperson actually cited HIPAA regulations, claiming they prevented her from talking about Melania Trump’s operation.
“I am not going to expand beyond the statement I put out. The First Lady is in good spirits and she is resting. There are HIPAA laws to consider, but she also deserves personal privacy,” Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the the first lady, told CNN Tuesday “when asked why the routine procedure would require a multi-day hospital stay.”
Monday’s press briefing itself was a disaster.
Of the now 60 or more Palestinians killed by Israel forces, the White House insisted Hamas was entirely to blame. The dead include at least eight children and even an infant.
Raj Shah came up empty when pressed on who authorized two far right wing extremist pastors to preach at Monday’s opening celebration ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Shah told reporters he just didn’t know how they came to be invited to speak.
One, Pastor Robert Jeffress, has said that Jews are going to hell. Also, anyone who practices any religion other than Christianity – including those of the Islamic and Mormon faiths. And, gay people.
The other, John Hagee, once said Hitler was fulfilling God’s plan when he slaughtered millions of Jews.
Shah said he did not know who invited them. He did not offer to find out, nor did he even condemn the pastor’s remarks. He merely questioned that they had made them, and said they don’t reflect the Trump White House’s positions.