Trump genuinely does not understand how government works. Pay attention, because his behavior in the coming months will likely worsen.
At a meeting with a group of Native American tribal leaders last June, Axios reports that the President urged leaders to bypass federal regulations and extract whatever resources they wanted from their land.
The exchange gives us a revealing glimpse into how Trump views his presidential powers. Much like the world of show business and real estate, the president wants to cuts deals, cut corners, and push whatever agenda suits his interests.
“Just do it,” the president urged.
The chiefs were surprised. They explained to Trump that there were regulatory barriers in place preventing them from harvesting fuels from their lands. Trump, who apparently has no regard for the law, replied, “But now it’s me. The government’s different now. Obama’s gone, and we’re doing things differently here.”
“So what I’m saying is, just do it.” – Donald J. Trump
The leaders were stunned. That didn’t faze Trump.
“Chief, chief, what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there? I mean, once it’s out of the ground it can’t go back in there. You’ve just got to do it. I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”
The tribal leader turned to someone; presumably, a White House counsel, asked, “Can we just do that?” The official did not confirm that what the president had suggested was legal, but also insisted that the administration was making progress and plans to roll back various regulations.
“Guys, I feel like you’re not hearing me right now. We’ve just got to do it. I feel like we’ve got no choice; other countries are just doing it. China is not asking questions about all of this stuff. They’re just doing it. And guys, we’ve just got to do it.”
- A second source vehemently objects to what Trump is saying. Apparently, Trump’s words were just unremarkable “Trump speak” and by “just do it” he meant rolling back federal regulation.
- The same source added context that Trump was getting briefed on all manner of regulations impeding his agenda at the time. This included energy production and infrastructure development.
This kind of behavior is increasingly the norm in Trump’s White House. The president considers himself a king: above the traditions, limits, and laws of the presidency.
- Last week he claimed sole credit for soaring stock prices.
- Last week he publicly bemoaned limits on his ability to direct the FBI/Justice Department (which operates separately from bipartisan politics for obvious reasons). He also bullied the department for not investigation Hillary Clinton, or as he put it, “Crooked Hillary & the Dems.”
- Last week he told Fox’s Laura Ingraham “I’m the only one that matters” when it comes to State Department policy and personnel.
Here are some points to take away:
- Trump’s clashes with Congress are likely to worsen in the coming months as his agenda stalls, and the investigations intensify.
- He’ll take more authority to issue executive orders as he becomes frustrated with the Republican party and legislative norms.
In other words, there are more shockwaves to come. Brace yourself and stay focused.