Trump’s Bonfire of Washington Politics

President Trump shocked the political world and his own “base” when he struck a budget deal with Democrats to get emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey victims, reports ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

Last week, President Trump threw a grenade into the U.S. political structure. Political fragments now lie scattered on the ground around Washington. The final outcome of this lightening act by Trump may take time to fully assess, but for sure, for the coming months (and probably until the U.S. mid-term elections are over), uncertainty will reign, and foreign policy will not find it easy to shoulder its way into anyone senior’s attention.

President Trump delivers statement about damage from Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Florida, on Sept. 14, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

One Democratic source described the lightening-like flash of events in the Oval Office: “The sequence was GOP pushing for 18-month debt [limit increase], then 12, then 6, then Trump cutting them off and agreeing with us on 3 … The Oval Office spins fast in Trump’s White House.”

Of course, the key question is: was this “a seat of the pants whimsical punt,” or is there a wider strategy in play here? Just to be clear, what Trump did – in a trice – was this:

First, Trump supported providing $8 billion in emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey relief, without acceding to the conservative Republican demand that it be linked directly to offsetting spending cuts.

Second, he agreed to combine the Harvey relief with raising the debt ceiling, and thus cut across the Republican Freedom Caucus – the Tea Party constituency which contributed so directly to Trump’s election, and who had insisted that the two issues be voted separately.

Third, Trump sided with the congressional Democratic leadership over the Republican leadership, by conceding that the debt ceiling increase only be for three months.

Fourth, Trump apparently agreed to a three-month continuing resolution. (In the event that Congress fails to pass legislation to fund the government before a new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, the House can pass legislation to keep certain specified federal…

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