Trump just went completely off the rails in his first cabinet meeting of 2019

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Emerging from a disastrous December in which his administration suffered prominent, confidence-shaking departures as well as a completely avoidable, still ongoing shutdown of the federal government, President Trump decided to hold a cabinet meeting today.

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Any naive expectations that he might try to do some damage control were quickly dashed as Trump descended into a truly unhinged, lie-riddled stream of consciousness that makes some of his previous rhetorical ramblings sound like the Gettysburg Address. The meeting lasted almost two hours, and Jeff Mason of Reuters live-tweeted most of it, sharing the most inane and insane things to tumble out of the president’s mouth.

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Not surprisingly, Trump wasted much of the meeting bellyaching about the fact that he hasn’t managed to build his pointless wall along the Mexican border. Despite the fact that he insisted repeatedly in the past that Mexico would pay for the construction, Trump has now pivoted to attacking the Democrats for refusing to give him billions of dollars to waste on the racist pet project.

During the cabinet meeting, Trump made the completely unfounded claim that there are 30-35 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States right now. The actual number is somewhere closer to 11 million. The president’s lie is obviously aimed at exaggerating the need for a border wall, but even if there were 35 million undocumented individuals living here, the vast majority of them arrive here legally and overstay their visas, something that the wall would be powerless to stop.

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President Trump took time to mention Senator-Elect Mitt Romney (R-UT), who just yesterday published a piece in The Washington Post criticizing Trump’s lack of character. Trump said he hopes Romney proves to be a “team player,” which is just his way of saying he hopes the incoming senator will shut up and mindlessly support his administration’s agenda. He also disrespectfully fired a shot off at the late Senator John McCain, lamenting his now-famous vote against Trump’s ill-devised and destructive Obamacare repeal.

Slipping into his comforting delusions, Trump claimed that he could be the most “popular person in Europe” and run for any office there if he wanted to, a pathetic attempt to paper over how deeply unpopular he is on the other side of the Atlantic.

Shannon Pettypiece of Bloomberg News tweeted that Trump also stopped to insult departing Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a lifelong military man who still commands a great degree of respect from both sides of the aisle.

Mattis reportedly chose to vacate his cabinet position because he could no longer sit back and watch Trump’s disastrous foreign policy unfold., with the president’s announcement that he would be unceremoniously withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria proving to be the final straw.

The president — himself a draft dodger whose father convinced a doctor to lie to get his son a medical exemption from service in the Vietnam War — impugned Mattis’s record, calling into question his service in Afghanistan by calling it “not too good” before bragging about “firing” him. It was just the latest barrage in a long string of disparaging comments Trump has made about members of the military.

Trump also made the delusional and laughable claim that he would have made a good general, something which no thinking person could actually believe.

Trump made mention of Kanye West’s recent Twitter support for him, something which neither matters nor deserves mention during a cabinet meeting, yet another sign that the president is far more concerned with managing his public image than actually governing.

President Trump went on to say that the government shutdown could last a “long time,” once again trying to appear tough in his vain efforts to secure border wall funding. He lacks the leverage to get what he wants due to the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, so all of this blustering is just that.

Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star recounted weird comments Trump made about meeting with his generals in which he praised them as “better looking than Tom Cruise, and stronger.” He said they looked like they were from a movie, once again demonstrating his strange obsession with the appearances of his staff members over their actual substance. Obviously, a general’s attractiveness has nothing to do with his military capabilities.

At another point, Trump trotted out his favorite tactic of casting himself as a victim, bemoaning the fact that he was forced to stay all alone in the White House over the holidays due to the shutdown, saying that the Secret Service agents with their “machine guns” wouldn’t even wave at him.

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If today’s jaw-dropping performance is a sign of what the American people can expect going forward, 2019 could prove to be an even more disastrous, confusing year than 2018.  As Daniel Dale put it so succinctly, Trump wasn’t very hinged today.

The president will continue unraveling before our eyes, and the looming results of the Mueller investigation are sure to drive him off the edge before long.

Robert Haffey

Robert Haffey is a political writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.

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