Perhaps the worst thing about working for Donald Trump is that…
Wait, let me start again.
There’s no way to nail down what the “worst thing about working for Donald Trump” is.
The pitfalls of taking part in the ongoing charade that is this presidency are so myriad that cataloguing them all is well nigh impossible. And even if you could make an exhaustive list, deciding which one of those pitfalls constitutes the biggest drawback would be complicated immeasurably by the fact that being associated with the dumpster fire raging at 1600 Penn. puts you at risk of being implicated in all manner of actual crimes, from misdemeanors to high treason. So, I don’t know. Do you have to make a separate list that accounts for most people’s inclination to say that “being indicted” is far worse than “being embarrassed”?
Anyway, let’s assume you’re making a list of “worst things about working for Trump” that don’t include the possibility of doing hard time in federal lockup. Somewhere near the top of that list would be “being contradicted by the president himself every time you open your mouth about anything.”
That happens all the time to Trump advisers. Someone from the administration shows up on national television and makes an unequivocal claim (usually about Trump) only to have Trump say the exact opposite, sometimes literally while that someone is still speaking.
Larry Kudlow fell victim to that dynamic on Friday.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reiterated what everybody already knows, which is that Trump is extremely concerned about the prospect that failing to make a deal with China on trade will lead to losses for US stocks. We’re not even going to bother going back over all the multiple layers of irony embedded in that discussion. The point is, Trump was shell-shocked by the Q4 selloff and he damn sure doesn’t want to see a repeat of that episode.
There’s also a strong argument to be made that having come away from his much ballyhooed second summit with Kim Jong-Un empty-handed, Trump would be loath to let his “legendary dealmaker” reputation suffer another blow.
Administration officials have spent a ton of time over the past year insisting that Trump’s negotiations with Beijing aren’t contingent on how US stocks are doing, but the president has undercut those claims at every juncture.
Well, on Friday, following a terribly disappointing jobs number, Kudlow made the media rounds and when pressed on Bloomberg TV about the idea that Trump would subjugate America’s interests in the trade talks to his desire to see a rally in equities, he (Larry) said this:
Ok, so that soundbite came at roughly 10:00 AM. Unbeknownst to Kudlow, Trump was just finishing up a characteristically ridiculous harangue on the South Lawn which featured, among other things, the president combining several of his derisive Mueller investigation critiques into one. “It’s a collusion witch hoax”, Trump declared.
But somewhere between trash-talking Michael Cohen and insisting that Democrats are anti-Jew, Trump also said this:
Got that? Here it is again:
As soon as these trade deals are done, I think you’re going to see a very big spike [in the markets].
Now let’s go back to Kudlow.
Is it, or is it not true that the price action on Wall Street is a factor in these negotiations?
We’ll give you one last chance, Larry. Or actually, we’ll just reverse it for you…
There, that’s better.
Meanwhile, this is the worst week for US stocks since December. But according Kudlow, Trump doesn’t care about such trivial matters.