9 big questions for President Trump today

President Donald Trump will take a handful of questions alongside Swedish Prime Minister Stefan L-fven Tuesday aftern...

Posted: Mar. 6, 2018 11:54 AM
Updated: Mar. 6, 2018 11:54 AM

President Donald Trump will take a handful of questions alongside Swedish Prime Minister Stefan L-fven Tuesday afternoon at the White House, the first chance for the media to ask Trump about Sam Nunberg, the resignation of Hope Hicks, his decision on steel tariffs and all of the other chaos at the White House over the past week.

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Typically, each leader takes two questions each from the American press and foreign press. So four questions total -- which isn't great but is better than nothing.

But you never know what will happen with Trump.

Here are nine questions I'd like to see asked (and answered by the President).

1. "Sam Nunberg said yesterday that you knew about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between your top campaign officials and a handful of Russian operatives. Is he lying?"

The likely Trump answer here will be "yes," since he has previously said he knew nothing about the meeting in advance of it -- and that the meeting ultimately came to nothing anyway.

Still, it would be good to get Trump on the record about it -- again -- in light of Nunberg's claims over the last 24 hours.

2. "You continue to refer to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation as a 'witch hunt.' How does that claim square with the fact that three people who worked on your campaign have pleaded guilty and are now cooperating with the investigation?"

This is the fundamental contradiction in Trump's thinking I have never been able to get my head around. If this whole investigation is nothing but a setup by Democrats angry they didn't win the election, then why are people like Michael Flynn and Rick Gates pleading guilty? Presumably Democrats aren't making them do that?

3. "Do you have any plans to reprimand Kellyanne Conway after the Office of Special Counsel said she violated the Hatch Act twice in the course of the Alabama Senate race?"

At issue is whether Conway, a senior counselor to the president, advocated for the election of a candidate in that formal role. If she did, as the Office of Special Counsel claims, she would be violating the prohibition on government employees getting involved in politics.

Under the law, it would be the White House who would administer any sort of punishment to Conway. Which Trump almost certainly wouldn't do.

4. "Jared Kushner has been stripped of his top security clearance. Can he -- or should he -- continue in his job at the White House? And have you -- or will you -- declassify top secret documents to allow Mr. Kushner to view them?"

The President's son-in-law is in charge of a massive portfolio -- including Middle East peace and the US's relationship with China. Experts suggest that without top security clearance, Kushner will struggle with the day to day challenges of his job unless Trump declassifies documents -- as any president can do -- so that Kushner can see them.

The broader question is whether Kushner, someone who still lacks a permanent security clearance because of questions surrounding his financial dealings in the presidential transition, should be in the White House at all -- much less in such a senior position.

5. "You announced last week that you planned to install tariffs on steel and aluminum. Has the Republican opposition to that plan changed your views at all?

I am genuinely interested in knowing the answer -- or at least what Trump will say -- to this one. Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated on Tuesday that House Republicans opposed the current tariff plan, asking that it be more targeted rather than so broad-based. Trump, as recently as earlier this week, has said he plans to go forward with the plan -- 25% tariff on steel, 10% on aluminum -- with no carve-outs for certain countries.

This back and forth is a reminder of how Trump's views often don't line up with Republican orthodoxy. The question is whether he bends amid pressure from Republicans in Congress.

6. "Your HUD Secretary Ben Carson spent $31,000 on a dining set for his office. VA Secretary David Shulkin misused taxpayer dollars on a trip to Europe last year. Tom Price, your former Health and Human Services director, resigned after his exorbitant spending on plane travel came to light. Doesn't all of that run directly counter to your pledge to 'drain the swamp'?"

I'll answer this one myself. Yes, of course it does.

7. "Last week in a meeting with congressional leaders, you urged action on a comprehensive bill of gun reforms. You also pledged to eliminate bump stocks via executive order. What is the status of both of those efforts?"

The debate over gun control has faded -- as it always does -- following the murder of 17 people in Parkland, Florida last month. Trump talked a big game in the meeting last week about his plans to act -- and to be the first president to get something real done on guns in the wake of a mass casualty shooting. But he has yet to push on Congress -- or anyone else -- for action.

8. "Can you describe your conversation with South Korean president Moon Jae-in on March 1 and give us some sense on how optimistic -- or not -- you are about North Korea's willingness to suspend its nuclear program while in talks with the US?"

Obviously, it's difficult to know how serious North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un about all of this. And, if past is prologue, he could reverse course on a dime. But the willingness to even float a suspension of nuclear ambition to pursue a dialogue with the US represents as step forward.

This could be -- emphasis on "could" -- a historic opportunity for Trump. Can he stay out of his own way and take it?

9. "Why do you keep attacking Jeff Sessions? If you are so unhappy with him, why not fire him?"

Seriously. Why bully Sessions and publicly bully him but not get rid of him?

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