Columnist Clare Higgins: Stressful week for President Donald Trump

  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, left, greet French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at the White House on Monday in Washington.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 4/27/2018 9:57:24 PM

Thursday was First Lady Melania Trump’s birthday. Her husband, President Donald Trump, made a surprise call to his BFFs on “Fox & Friends.”

“I picked a very, very special day because it’s Melania’s birthday so I said, ‘Let’s do it on Melania’s birthday,’ ” he explained. “So happy birthday to Melania.”

Of course, he was way too busy to buy her an actual present, but he did get her a card and some flowers.

It’s too bad that he loathes Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and The Washington Post. He could have ordered up a present for his wife and had it delivered right to the White House. Or he could have sent Jared over to the Amazon Locker at P and 14th Street.

Jared should have been able to accomplish that — it’s not like his usual task list (Mideast peace, reinventing government, solving the opioid epidemic). It’s way easier that paying off Ivanka’s outstanding Visa card balance of $50,000 to $100,000. And it’s certainly easier than locating foreign investors to bail out his family’s real estate business at a cost of $31 million to $155 million.

It’s been a stressful week for the president. In no particular order, his trusted fixer Michael Cohen might be ready to make a deal with the feds; Scott Pruitt (the climate change-denying big spender at the Environmental Protection Agency) had to testify in front of Congress about his blatant disregard for the taxpayer’s money; French President Emmanuel Macron came over for the first state dinner of the Trump presidency; and Admiral Ronny Jackson left the building.

Big boss man Trump fired people face-to-face on “The Apprentice” every show (or so I’m told — I never actually saw it). But as president, he seems to be incapable of firing anyone in person. He has people for that — people like Jeff Sessions and John Kelly.

Here is how it works for Trump appointees. At first, they are the smartest, the bravest, the (insert superlative here), and will do the best job ever. But, once they are on the job and making hard decisions, the Twitter criticism starts, and they are on their way to the exit.

There was a new twist to the craven Trump approach to employee relations this week. First, he appointed a manifestly unqualified candidate to head the Veterans Administration. A doctor and an admiral! What could go wrong?

Well, quite a lot as Dr. Jackson found out. In any normal White House, or any normal business, the boss would take responsibility and figure out an exit plan for a flawed nominee. But not Trump. He said “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting. ... If I were him, I wouldn’t do it.”

He didn’t want to put Admiral Jackson through the process, but he did. And then he said, “We’ll see what happens. He’ll make a decision.” So, instead of waiting for the usual Twitter barbs, the admiral fired himself. It’s a shame that Pruitt didn’t auto-fire himself before he was confirmed.

The one thing the president knows he needs is lawyers. As he told “Fox & Friends,” “I have many, many — just so you understand, I have many attorneys. I have attorneys — sadly, I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it.”

And that is the truth. He has had a string of lawyers since his election and they all have one thing in common — he doesn’t do what they say. He doesn’t do what they say because he is smarter than them. According to him anyway. Remember, he is “a very stable genius.”

Trump has all these attorneys, but he doesn’t have the ones he wants. He told “Fox & Friends,” “I’ve taken the position — and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change — that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over. ...I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department but because of the fact that it’s going under, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

He might yet be “involved” with the Justice Department, but it will most likely be as a defendant. They are our lawyers, not his.

For a guy with a lot of attorneys, he knows very little about how the justice system works. That’s not surprising, because he had a lot of bankers and managed to go bankrupt six times.

And he has had a lot of wives and doesn’t understand that a radio interview isn’t really a birthday present.

Clare Higgins, of Northampton, a former mayor of the city, is executive director of the nonprofit Community Action Pioneer Valley. She can be reached at


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