There was a glaring absence at Individual 1’s bonkers Rose Garden press conference Friday, following his meeting with congressional leadership on the government shutdown. That absence? Anyone with any power besides him to do something to end the shutdown. He was there with the House Republican leadership—the minority leadership—which doesn’t control anything.
Which means the one Republican besides him who can still do something about this chose not to participate. That would be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When Trump was asked, eventually, why McConnell hadn’t joined them, he said it was because the Senator was busy “running the Senate.” The Senate had adjourned until next Tuesday more than three hours earlier, before the leadership meeting even started. McConnell, of course, hasn’t said why he wasn’t there.
But what he did say, following that meeting in which Trump did indeed say that he was willing to keep the government closed for years, was that everything is just fine. “The news is that the president agreed to designate his top people to sit down with all the leaders’ staffs this weekend to see if we could come up with an agreement to recommend back to us — both to him and to the various leaders,” McConnell told reporters.
Like it’s all perfectly normal. He said that it’s “encouraging in the sense that if other Democratic leaders’ staffs agree to meet, we’ll have at least a working group of people who know most about this subject to see if they can reach an agreement and then punt it back to us for final sign-off.” Because there isn’t a raging lunatic in the White House who is now talking about keeping the government shut down forever. Or as Schumer said, in demanding McConnell engage, “President Trump is erratic, unreliable and sometimes even irrational,” and someone needs to step in.
Not McConnell’s problem, apparently. Nothing to see here. Except there is: McConnell’s total abdication to Trump, which makes this shutdown and all its consequences just as much his as Trump’s.
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