out of the loop
September 18, 2020

When news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died Friday after battling pancreatic cancer, tributes from politicians and Americans all over the country came pouring in within minutes.

One voice conspicuously missing? President Trump's.

Trump was speaking at a rally in Minnesota when the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg's death. And while he certainly can't be blamed for failing to check Twitter while giving one of his signature rambling speeches, as the hour wore on, it became increasingly strange that the president was seemingly one of the few top lawmakers who hadn't heard the major update.

As NBC News' Garrett Haake put it, the "political earth has shifted under his feet" during the course of his rally, and he was seemingly without a clue.

Ginsburg's death constitutes "political earth," of course, because with a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Trump and the Republican-majority Senate are now likely to push forward with a conservative nominee to replace her before the November presidential election. With a new Trump-picked justice, the court's conservative majority would be further solidified for years to come.

Trump told the crowd about his belief that Sean Hannity should win a Pulitzer Prize, called Joe Biden "Sleepy Joe," and discussed the latest poll numbers, all while pundits and Americans everywhere were meanwhile considering the sudden change to the 2020 race. When he started ruminating on the power of the president to influence decades of judicial balance on the Supreme Court, attendees began yelling "Ginsburg is dead," video shows.

At last, after Trump exited the stage nearly two hours after the court's announcement, reporters seemingly informed Trump of Ginsburg's passing. "She just died? Wow. I didn't know that," he responded. He said he was "sad to hear" the news and praised her as an "amazing woman." Summer Meza

August 20, 2019

America's ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, rolled out the digital red carpet for President Trump on Tuesday afternoon, tweeting that America's "partner, ally, friend" is "ready" for Trump's visit.

A little more than two hours later, Trump pulled the plug, strongly suggesting that the entire purpose of his trip to Copenhagen was to discuss purchasing Greenland from Denmark. That might have been news to Sands, a former soap opera and film actress and chiropractor, as the official reason for Trump's visit was dinner with Queen Margrethe II and meetings with Danish leaders — "as an offbeat thank-you to a small country that has been a stalwart NATO member and that supported U.S. military actions," as The Washington Post put it — following a two-day visit to Poland.

Trump confirmed on Sunday that he had asked his administration to explore buying Greenland, saying that "essentially, it’s a large real estate deal," but he also said it wasn't "No. 1 on the burner" and claimed his trip to Denmark was "not for this reason at all." Trump had been talking about buying Greenland for weeks, the Post reports, and senior administration officials had discussed various offers to pry it loose from Denmark. Once the news leaked, Denmark and Greenland made it clear the ice-covered island territory is not for sale.

Trump is still expected to visit Warsaw to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II. Peter Weber

January 30, 2017

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly reportedly wasn't briefed on President Trump's executive order on immigration until it was already being signed, The New York Times reported:

Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, had dialed in from a Coast Guard plane as he headed back to Washington from Miami. Along with other top officials, he needed guidance from the White House, which had not asked his department for a legal review of the order.

Halfway into the briefing, someone on the call looked up at a television in his office. "The president is signing the executive order that we're discussing," the official said, stunned. [The New York Times]

Kelly was far from the only government official left in the dark about Trump's policy shift, which bans people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. and halts the refugee program.

A member of Trump's transition team, Heritage Foundation Vice President James Jay Carafano, told The New York Times that "little of that work was shared with career officials at the Homeland Security Department, the State Department, or other agencies." Secretary of Defense James Mattis apparently did not see the finalized executive order until hours before Trump signed it Friday afternoon, which one Customs and Border Protection officer pointed out could be why so many border officers were unclear on how to carry out the order. "If the secretary doesn't know anything," the officer said, "how could we possibly know anything at this level?"

Read the story in full over at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

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