Eight months into the Trump presidency and still no sign of his promised border wall, Fox & Friends is starting to wonder if President Trump may have been speaking metaphorically when he proposed such a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. "[H]as the wall almost become symbolic?" Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy pondered Thursday. "I know the president ran on it. It was a mantra. But at the same time, border crossings have gone down dramatically and you were talking about how the wall exists in certain forms and there's money to go to it ... but do you think we're going to get to the point where maybe they won't build the wall?"
The debate was sparked by Trump's Thursday morning tweet insisting that his "WALL" was "already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls." He said it would "continue to be built." Trump posted the tweet the morning after his dinner with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said Trump at the sit-down agreed to "work out a package of border security, excluding the wall."
Former Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, who recently joined Fox News as a contributor, swooped in to try to explain why Trump, who led chants of "build that wall" at his rallies, was now seemingly setting aside his promised wall while simultaneously suggesting it was already being built.
Chaffetz claimed Trump "doesn't need congressional authority to build the wall" because it's "already there." But then he said Trump does need funding, and it's "solely in the camp of the United States Congress to fund what the president promised he would do." Chaffetz said Trump will build the allegedly already built wall so long as Congress, whose authority Chaffetz claimed Trump does not need, will "step up and actually fund it."
On Wednesday, President Trump publicly contradicted several long-stated policy views, bringing his stances more in line with Washington orthodoxy.
Meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said of the military alliance: "I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete." A week after calling China the "world champion" of currency manipulation, a common refrain on the campaign trail, he told The Wall Street Journal, "They're not currency manipulators." Trump also shifted positions on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, telling The Journal it's actually "a very good thing, and it actually makes money," including for smaller companies. He also suggested he might re-appoint Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, whom he has previously criticized. This all comes a week after Trump appeared to abandon his campaign views about foreign intervention by bombing a Syrian government air base.
On Wednesday, "it was almost as if Trump's outsider presidential campaign never happened as he rushed to embrace mainstream political and national security positions he once publicly abhorred," CNN said. Trump's sudden 180-shifts "would leave a more traditional politician labeled a flip-flopper," Politico suggested. "But for Trump, who sold himself in part on a businessman’s flexibility, the moves fit his reputation for unpredictability." When a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the reversals, he said simply, "Circumstances change." Peter Weber
Trump viciously attacks Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski hours after campaign manager insists he doesn't insult people
Donald Trump viciously attacked Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski on Monday morning, just hours after his new campaign manager insisted he "doesn't hurl personal insults."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2016
"I don't like when people hurl personal insults. That will never be my style, I'm a mother of four small children, it would be a terrible example for me to feel otherwise," Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told ABC News less than 24 hours before Trump's tweets. Trump "doesn't hurl personal insults," she added.
Trump ousted campaign manager Paul Manafort last week, who many in the Republican establishment hoped would help with Trump's pivot. Trump's new team, made up of Conway and campaign chief executive Stephen Bannon, reportedly want to reinstate a "let Trump be Trump" strategy.
Pivot lasted almost five days.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) August 22, 2016
That appears, at least, to be working. Jeva Lange
At speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night, Donald Trump told the audience that he has misspoken "in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues," and that "believe it or not, I regret it." Speaking from a teleprompter for the third time this week, Trump did not specify which comments he regretted, but he did say, "I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues."
This was Trump's first rally since bringing on a combative new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon. Hillary Clinton's campaign shrugged off the unexpected change in tone. "Donald Trump literally started his campaign by insulting people," spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said in a statement. "He has continued to do so through each of the 428 days from then until now, without shame or regret. We learned tonight that his speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize."
Trump has been unapologetic after previous controversial comments, saying just 16 days ago about sparring with the parents of Iraq War casualty Humayun Khan, "I don't regret anything." The political press generally took a wait-and-see approach to whether this week and this speech marks the beginning of the long-expected Trump "pivot," but Never Trump Republicans seem pretty skeptical:
Which of the 250 people and groups he insulted would he apologize to? https://t.co/UIBfSk4bsB
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) August 19, 2016
Trump has done a lot more than caused "personal pain." He's damaged America's standing in the world & is helping our enemies. Get serious.
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) August 19, 2016
The rest of the speech had some of his usual barbs about Clinton's honesty and Obama and Clinton at least allowing the Islamic State, as well as some sections that could have been written by Aaron Sorkin. As Washington Post editor Steven Ginsberg commented, "If Trump is like this until Nov. it will be a great test of when voters decide and when campaigns are won and lost." Peter Weber