VOA News – Steve Herman
WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged he literally found himself on slippery footing Wednesday, a timely simile to what his administration suddenly was confronting.
At the start of a political rally in the Florida Panhandle, Trump complained about the condition of the stage.
“That runway is like an ice-skating rink and the first step was slippery,» he said, jokingly adding: “I think it was put in by the Democrats.”
“That’s a trap,” the longtime real estate developer continued, adding when that happens you “don’t pay the bill.”
Later, he compared his sunny Florida podium to a slab of ice.
Trump had headed south into friendlier territory for the evening, leaving behind — for a few hours — mounting trouble in Washington where he had asserted executive privilege to shield the full report by special counsel Robert Mueller from congressional scrutiny.
Scanning his morning newspaper in the White House, Trump saw a front-page New York Times headline: «Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses.»
The president, on social media, responded that the story was “very old information” and a “highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!”
Hours later, New York lawmakers took action that could lead to revealing Trump’s state tax returns, something he has zealously guarded from public scrutiny.
In the afternoon, a slew of bad news for the president rolled in from Capitol Hill. The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend holding his attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress.
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters after the vote, which was along party lines.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also Wednesday subpoenaed Barr for counterintelligence from the two-year Russia probe of the special counsel. And, more surprisingly, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to testify about his June 2016 meeting with Russians.
Uncharacteristically, throughout the day, the president avoided White House reporters.
A Cabinet meeting that had been scheduled to be open to a group of journalists was suddenly closed to the press.
Trump also did not stop to talk to reporters when he walked from the Oval Office to board his Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn.
He eschewed other opportunities to speak with the media boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, did not step back into the press cabin during the flight to Florida and ignored questions while touring hurricane-damaged areas after landing in the Southern state.
During his Panama City Beach rally in the evening, Trump did bash Democrats and the media but avoided specifically commenting on the actions taken during the day by the congressional committees.
“They want to do investigations, instead of investments,” Trump told the enthusiastic crowd. “I think it drives us right on to victory in 2020.”
More than 20 Democrats are vying in the party’s primary for the chance to unseat Trump in next year’s presidential election.
The president, during the rally, briefly mentioned several of the contenders from the opposition party. He said a former Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke, is “sinking like a rock.”
The Democratic front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, is “sleepy.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, running in his second consecutive presidential primary race, is “crazy.” And of Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, in the state of Indiana, Trump said sarcastically: “He’ll be great representing us against President Xi (Jinping) of China.”
Trump said he wished next year’s Election Day would hurry up and arrive.
And in what he acknowledged was intended as a deliberate provocation of the media, Trump riffed about staying in office not six more years, but up to “14 more years.”
“There’ll be headlines tomorrow,” he predicted: “Donald Trump Wants to Break Constitution.”