President Donald Trump went on an early morning tirade over Twitter on Monday, lashing out at the press and his Democratic enemies from his golf club in New Jersey.
Trump kicked off his 200th day in office from Bedminster, where he’ll be for the next two weeks, with a string of nine tweets defending his work ethic against allegations he spends too much time vacationing, touting his popularity on the right, calling the Russia investigation a “hoax” and attacking the “fake news” media.
The messages came after a weekend in which the White House reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about a shadow campaign Republicans are forming in case the president does not run for reelection in 2020.
President Trump, and administration and campaign related officials are dealing with multiple investigations into the 2016 presidential election — including one by special counsel Robert Mueller that now looks to threaten his business empire.
President Trump has had some wins and loses, He confirmed Justice Gorsuch, but has seen his legislative agenda stall in Congress. Most notably, his effort to repeal ObamaCare suffered a setback in July after a failed vote in the Senate.
It was in that context that Trump got personal in reigniting a feud Monday with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who had been on CNN earlier in the day warning about a Justice Department review of its policies toward media subpoenas.
Blumenthal, a former prosecutor, had also been on Twitter urging Mueller to “follow the money” in his investigation of Russian meddling in the election, including any collusion between members of Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
Trump attacked Blumenthal over a 2010 controversy in which he admitted to exaggerating his military service, saying the Connecticut Democrat “cried like a baby” when he was caught and is therefore unqualified to weigh in on the Russia probe.
Blumenthal once said he served “in” the Vietnam War, but admitted under pressure during his reelection campaign that he had only served “during” the war as a reservist in the U.S.
Blumenthal fired back, accusing Trump of “bullying” and insisting that the special counsel investigation maintain its “independence and integrity” outside of political pressures.
President Trump also fumed at his critics in the leftist mainstream media, who have sought to highlight his golf outings and how much time he spends at his private clubs.
The president has regularly spent weekends at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. With that club closed for the season, Trump has moved north to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
It is customary for presidents to spend time away from Washington in August while Congress is on recess. And the White House is undergoing renovations, forcing senior staff into adjacent office buildings until the work is complete.
However, many on the left have sought to highlight Trump’s golf outings because he was a frequent critic of former President Barack Obama, whom he accused of vacationing too much.
The White House has at times refused to say how the president spends his days at his private clubs, intensifying efforts in the media to highlight the amount of time he spends on the links.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that Vice President Pence and other Cabinet secretaries, as well as senior advisers Rick Waddell and Kellyanne Conway, would visit Trump this week at Bedminster to discuss healthcare, tax reform and other issues.
Senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump spent the weekend there, as did chief of staff John Kelly.
Walters said the White House would elaborate on Trump’s planned New York trip shortly.
Several members of the media took shots at Trump for vacationing or pulled up old tweets of him criticizing Obama for going on vacation.
The score-settling and angry back-and-forth between the mainstream media and the White House has been one of the primary features of Trump’s first 200 days in office.
Trump believes he’s not getting a fair shake from the press, accusing the media of focusing on “fake” controversies and ignoring the good news, like unemployment levels and job creation.
Trump’s popularity is historically low this early for a first-term president according to polls, though these same pollsters have Hillary Clinton a 99% chance of winning and we know how that went..
Even so, there are no signs that Trump’s base is preparing to abandon him.
He remains wildly popular in many of the red states he carried and is still able to pull thousands for campaign rallies when he hits the road — a phenomenon he highlighted over Twitter on Monday.