As Democrats’ determination to continue its impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump becomes more evident each day, Trump has begun to look and sound increasingly unhinged, including a meltdown Wednesday that made for a trending hashtag on Twitter.
The Trump White House’s lack of a “playbook” about how to respond to his impeachment woes has House Republicans looking for leadership on the issue, The Hill reports:
“Who knows what playbook they are on,” one GOP lawmaker told The Hill. “[Trump’s] pulling it out of his ass as he goes along.”
Case in point: Trump’s aggressive, combative and at times “profane” response at the White House Wednesday to reporters pressing him on details surrounding the House’s probe.
House lawmakers are looking into a whistleblower’s report on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine’s president during a phone call in which he appears to seek election 2020 assistance from the foreign leader in return for releasing key military aid.
And it all seems to be driving Trump, well, nuts. Repeatedly forced to field questions from reporters on the impeachment inquiry, Trump, as the president of Finland looked on, became increasingly combative and inspiring the trending Twitter hashtag #TrumpMeltdown.
The newly combative tack overshadowed Wednesday’s visit to the White House from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, during which Trump accused [House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam] Schiff, without evidence, of helping author the whistleblower complaint at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, belittled Schiff with locker room rhetoric, and denounced as “rude” an American reporter for asking follow-up questions at a news conference.
Trump’s comments came after an earlier press conference by Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the impeachment probe, during which Schiff criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after Pompeo’s acknowledgment Wednesday that he was on the Ukraine call with Trump.
In response, Trump also lobbed a crude personal attack against Schiff, saying, reports Politico:
“He is a shifty dishonest guy who was critical of one of the great secretary of States. … The most honorable person, Mike Pompeo, and this guy was negative on Mike Pompeo. He can’t — you know there’s an expression, he couldn’t carry his blank strap,” Trump said, apparently self-bleeping “jock strap.”
Trump’s strident response follows days of criticism of Schiff and attacks on both Schiff and the anonymous whistleblower, as Politico explains:
In recent days, Trump demanded Schiff’s resignation while claiming the congressman and the anonymous whistleblower could both be guilty of treason. He repeated those attacks throughout much of the day Wednesday, telling reporters that “I have a lot of respect for whistleblowers but only when they are real.”
This all has congressional Republicans frustrated, according to The Hill, while they still seem determined to circle the wagons for their leader:
Senior staffers say members have privately taken issue with the lack of central coordination on a plan, even as most Republicans have avoided publicly criticizing Trump or the White House.
[However,] [w]ith the rapid pace of the news cycle surrounding impeachment and the gravity of the consequences it could bring, some argue the White House shouldn’t bear all the blame for the messaging fumbles that have taken place.
“There needs to be a deep sense of what this is about and how to respond. So far, this hasn’t come from any part of the leadership in the party. We have to do better,” one GOP member, who requested anonymity, told The Hill. “This can’t be only Trump defending himself.”
Top Republicans in the House are making a concerted effort to be proactive in crafting a streamlined messaging strategy to combat Democrats’ attacks.