President Donald Trump is coming off his “worst week” in the White House — that is, if you’re not counting at least the nine other weeks since his January inauguration when the media has also declared the Republican to have hit rock bottom.
The “worst week” cliché has its reasons: this time it’s Trump’s controversial response to violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. But for the reporters and political analysts who make their living covering Trump, there’s always something (or many things) to merit such a categorical description for such a chaotic president.
It’s a subjective measurement by any definition. Nonetheless, here’s a POLITICO review of the 10 weeks (out of 30 so far) where journalists have dubbed Trump as having his “worst week” in office.
1. August 14-20
What happened: Trump started the week condemning the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists for the fatal violence in Charlottesville but then reversed course and doubled down on his earlier argument that “many sides” were to blame for the weekend’s events spinning out of control. Republicans and Democrats alike criticized him, as did corporate leaders who forced the White House to shutter several of its business advisory panels. White House senior adviser Steve Bannon was fired.
Who called it: NBC reporters including “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd wrote that the president is “more isolated than ever after worst week yet” — and that was hours before the news broke that Bannon was ousted. FOX News’ Bret Baier said that Bannon’s departure made it “clearly the worst week” yet. ABC News political analyst Matt Dowd had this to say of the Bannon news, “Worst blow so far of his presidency, coming at the tail end of probably his worst week as president.” MSNBC, meantime, noted the number of times the “worst week” description had been used in recent weeks and made a comparison to a scene from the 1999 film, “Office Space.”
2. August 7-13
What happened: The Charlottesville melee was in its first 24 hours when Trump gave his first stumbling response, blaming “many sides” for the violence. He improvised on the nuclear threat from North Korea, warning that the country would face “fire and fury” if it attacked the U.S. or its allies. Speaking from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club where he was on a working vacation, the president told reporters a “military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue” in Venezuela. He also jokingly thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for booting more than 750 U.S. diplomats from Russia. Trump carried on a feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not passing an Obamacare repeal bill.
Who called it: Helene Cooper, a Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, said on “Meet the Press” in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville that Trump may have just had his “worst week” because he’s not been “able to detach himself from these white supremacists who got him elected and who he has put in his government and in the White House.” She also called him out for his North Korea response. Max Boot, writing for Foreign Policy, called Trump the “WWE president” — as in the “worst week ever” — adding, “that has become even more of a leitmotif for his administration.”
3. July 24-30
What happened: The Senate by one vote killed a Republican bill to repeal Obamacare. The military was caught unprepared when Trump tweeted out his plans to ban transgender troops. The Boy Scouts of America apologized after Trump gave an explicitly political speech at their annual jamboree. Trump publicly humiliated Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Senate Republicans came to Sessions’ defense. White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci gave a scathing, expletive-laden interview to the New Yorker criticizing Bannon and then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Priebus was fired and John Kelly was named as his replacement.
Who called it: Washington Post opinion writer Kathleen Parker opened a column this way, “Donald Trump had his worst day since he was elected president – we’ll just call it Friday – and his worst week since the last one.” In the same newspaper, Charles Krauthammer pointed out the checks and balances that had pushed back at Trump, noting his “worst week proved a particularly fine hour for American democracy.” Dowd, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” said Kelly began as chief of staff “probably after the worst week of Donald Trump’s presidency.” The Australian Financial Review reported that Trump faced skepticism in Washington “that he can recover from arguably his work week on Capitol Hill.”
4. July 10-16
What happened: The New York Times over several days reported on a June 2016 meeting between Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., senior campaign aides, and a Kremlin-linked lawyer who had promised them dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Who called it: Times’ reporters Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman described Trump as being in a “buoyant mood” during a visit to the press cabin on Air Force One, following a quick trip to Paris that came while he was “suffering one of the worst weeks of his political career.”
5. June 12-18
What happened: The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had expanded his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election into an examination of whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice. Trump himself seemed to confirm the news on Twitter, with a Friday morning missive that launched a wave of speculation he may be getting ready to order the firing of Mueller: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”
Who called it: CNN’s Chris Cillizza, author of a weekly column awarding an unlucky pol for having the “worst week in Washington,” bestowed the honor on the president. “Donald Trump hasn’t had a lot of good weeks since being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. But this was his worst one yet,” he wrote. “This was the week the investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election reached the Oval Office – and Trump himself.”
6. June 5-11
What happened: The cable networks go wall-to-wall with coverage of former FBI Director James Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he confirmed reports the president demanded his loyalty and pressured him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Who called it: The Daily Show had some fun with this one. Opening his Monday broadcast with a look back at the Comey hearing, Trevor Noah, the Comedy Central host said, “Last week was probably one of the worst weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, which, by the way, is something we say every week now. Yeah. Trump’s presidency is basically like global warming. Every week is the worst week on record, and the Republicans are also trying hard to deny it.”
7. May 15-21
What happened: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to investigate Trump campaign ties to Russian tampering in the 2016 election. The New York Times reported Trump told Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office that Comey was a ‘real nut job’. The Washington Post published an article saying a senior White House official had become a “significant person of interest” in the Russia investigation. Sen. John McCain said the Trump scandals had reached a “Watergate size and scale.” On Twitter, Trump fired back, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
Who called it: Reporters outside the U.S. pinpointed Trump’s troubles, with a Toronto Star columnist noting before the week was even over: “At the midway point of Trump’s worst week in office – and that’s saying something – his travelling band of surrogates, liars, bootlickers, enablers, brown-nosers and excuse-makers are in quite a bind.” A Canberra Times editorial in Australia also jumped into the action by suggesting Trump’s “witch hunt” tweet “could even be seen as a successful attempt to divert attention away from his worst week since entering the White House.” Back in the U.S., a CNN report with Jake Tapper sharing the byline said Trump’s tweets appeared to be an attempt by staff to calm “the raging political storm over Russia which has resulted in Trump’s worst week in office so far.” Reuters, meantime, went with this headline to sum up the week’s news: “Donald Trump’s Worst Week as President?”
8. May 8-14
What happened: Trump fired Comey on a Tuesday, citing recommendations from Rosenstein and Sessions. He sat down for an NBC interview on Thursday with Lester Holt and said he’d already made up his mind to fire Comey “regardless of recommendation” from the DOJ officials. Trump started his Friday on Twitter by posting: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Who called it: Republican strategist Ed Rollins on one of FOX News’ Sunday morning shows called for “some deep thinking in this White House,” and added, “This was the worst week, I think, this president has had, and it’s all self-inflicted.” Cillizza, meantime, awarded Trump the “worst week in Washington” honor for all-things Comey.
9. March 20-26
What happened: Comey, appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed for the first time publicly that the FBI has an open investigation into potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. In a major defeat, House Republicans dropped plans for a floor vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Who called it: ABC’s George Stephanopoulos opened his Sunday show this way, “And for all of you who had a rough week, just think about how President Trump must feel after the worst week of his young presidency.”
10. February 13-19
What happened: It was a messy Valentine’s Day in Trump land. The president fired Flynn amid a spate of media reports he’d had undisclosed conversations with Russia’s ambassador during the transition and misled Vice President Mike Pence in the process. The New York Times reported about phone records and intercepted calls suggesting Trump’s campaign and his associates had made “repeated contacts” with senior Russian officials. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal published an article that U.S. intelligence officials were holding back sensitive material from Trump because of concern about leaks.
Who called it: Teasing a video about the news of the week, the U.S. News and World Report declared Trump “has just endured his worst week in Washington yet” and asked who was is in charge of his White House. Over at the Miami Herald, columnist Fabiola Santiago took note of Cuban-Americans in Congress who were silent about “Trump’s Russiagate.” The headline: “On his worst week in office, Trump gets a boost from Cuban-American pals in Congress.”
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