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It was a week of ups and downs for President Donald Trump, who got a nominee approved for a lifetime judgeship in Alabama — even though he’s never tried a case in his life — and then called Kim Jong Un “short and fat,” which led Pyongyang to sentence Trump to death. He said he believes Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia didn’t interfere with the U.S. election, then backtracked, and then defended himself against “haters and fools” who can’t realize that a good relationship with Putin “is a good thing.”
He offered a sincere tweet of comfort to victims of the wrong mass shooting, then demanded three UCLA basketball players to thank him for freeing them from detention in China, which they did. And finally, he meekly condemned molestation accusations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore before saying he should stay in the race, then blasted Sen. Al Franken after an image was published of Franken apparently groping a woman while she was asleep.
On the defense Day 294 — November 10
Trump sort of condemned Roy Moore, the GOP Senate candidate from Alabama, who’s accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Three other women also told the Washington Post that Moore sexually pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
“Like most Americans, the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. “However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
Trump also briefly came face to face with his frenemy Vladimir Putin once again. After a few days of rumors that the two would engage in a secret meeting (the Kremlin said it was a go), the White House said the two wouldn’t hold a “formal meeting” in Vietnam at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
And a Senate committee approved a Trump federal judge nominee who has practiced law for only three years, has never tried a case, and was unanimously rated “unqualified” by the American Bar Association. The nominee, Brett Talley, will now serve a lifetime appointment in Alabama.
On the offense Day 295 — November 11
Trump didn’t call Kim Jong Un “short and fat” but he could have!
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well,” Trump tweeted shortly after cancelling a trip to the DMZ, the heavily guarded border zone between North and South Korea. “I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”
A few days later, North Korea responded by sentencing Trump to death.
After talking to Putin, Trump solved the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. election once and for all, ending months of investigation within the U.S. intelligence community.
“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “Every time he sees me, he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”
Trump then went on to defend himself in tweets and called on the “haters and fools” to “realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.” Putin and Russia, Trump said, can “greatly help” in “solving” issues with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, and terrorism.
On the Duterte fence Day 297 — November 13
Trump left Vietnam for the Philippines, the final stop of his Asia tour, where he would come face to face with President Rodrigo Duterte, who is waging a brutal drug war that encourages extrajudicial killings. And meet Duterte Trump did, though he didn’t address the Philippines’ possible human rights abuses. Instead, the duo seemed to bond over a mutual hatred of Barack Obama, a man Duterte once called a “son of a whore.”
“It’s very apparent that both of them have a person who they consider as not their best friend,” Duterte’s spokesman told reporters. “They have similar feelings toward former U.S. President Barack Obama.”
Meanwhile, back in the States, it was revealed Donald Trump Jr. had secretly exchanged Twitter messages with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. Don Jr. seemed to grant WikiLeaks some minor favors before he ultimately stopped responding to the organization’s escalating requests. Among other outlandish asks, WikiLeaks requested that Don Jr. ask his father to suggest that Australia name its leader, Julian Assange, as ambassador to Washington, D.C. Assange’s organization also asked Junior to leak one of his father’s tax returns to WikiLeaks.
The president continued not to drain the swamp: Trump tweeted his nomination of Alex Azar, a high-ranking official in the George W. Bush administration and former pharmaceutical executive, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Back on the offense Day 298 — November 14
Jeff Sessions announced the possibility of a Department of Justice investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, including hiring a special counsel to look into the Uranium One deal. Republicans allege, without proof, that as secretary of state in 2010 Clinton approved the sale of uranium to a Russian-controlled company in exchange for donations to her family’s foundation.
During testimony to the House later in the day, however, Sessions said he was just pointing out how an investigation like that might be opened and that he wasn’t “taking sides.”
Six Democratic senators demanded an investigation into whether Trump’s good friend and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to Congress about his finances, following the release of the “Paradise Papers,” a huge trove of documents detailing the wealthy’s use of offshore tax havens.
And this week it was also Paul Ryan’s turn to try his hand at Trump-style diplomacy — Ryan has the unenviable task of persuading 39 Republicans representing high-tax blue states to vote to raise income taxes on their constituents or the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will not pass.
Fumble Day 299 — November 15
Trump offered a sincere tweet of comfort to the victims of the wrong mass shooting, noting the FBI and law enforcement had “arrived.” Two dozen people were indeed killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the worst mass shooting in the state’s history … more than a week ago. On Tuesday, however, a gunman in Northern California shot and killed four people.
On the other hand, the president of the United States went back on Twitter to inquire whether he’d receive a thank you from three black college students he worked to free from detention in China after accusations of shoplifting. Lo and behold, they gave him one. Trump’s response? “You’re welcome.”
Meanwhile over in the and of photo ops, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise — the one who caused a minor scandal after getting in a fight on Instagram with a woman over a trip she took with her husband on a private jet — voluntarily posed with a big sheet of money looking like two villains from a 1990s children’s movie.
Playing offensive Day 300 — November 16
Trump finally acknowledged, through White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that Roy Moore has been accused of some “very troubling” things. Still, Sanders said, it is Trump’s position that the voters of Alabama should decide Moore’s fate, which is to say, Trump couldn’t care less if Moore drops out or not .
Despite his muted response to the allegations against Moore, Trump tweeted out a harsh rebuke of Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, who became embroiled in his own scandal after a reporter published an image of Franken apparently groping her while she was asleep during a United Services Organization tour in 2006.
“The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” asked Trump, who has been accused by at least 16 women of sexual harassment and abuse.