NEW YORK: President Donald TrumpThe administration ends as it began with exaggerated declarations of praise for the chairman of the board.
But now the flattery mixes with a sense of finality as key people in the president’s orbit begin to turn the page and acknowledge his defeat.
Trump himself remains in the Oval Office, still battling the election day results and offering little credit for the death and suffering of Americans in the darkest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One week as the electoral college celebrated President-elect Joe Biden’s official victory, Trump stayed out of sight, stayed long in the Oval Office, working on the phones and remote controls in his private dining area, steps from the Resolute Desk.
While he didn’t even appear in public, some of his most influential allies and loyal defenders gave up the fight and abandoned the president as gently as possible.
Attorney General William Barr offered his resignation last Monday after weeks of tension with Trump led to an early retirement from office.
Barr, long regarded as one of Trump’s most supportive cabinet members, had drawn Trump’s anger over the past few weeks and months for failing to support the president’s unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud or for failing to publicly investigate Biden’s son Hunter.
But when Barr stepped aside, he did so with flowery language that was reminiscent of the compliments thrown as verbal bouquets of flowers to Trump during early cabinet meetings.
“Your record is even more historic as you achieved it in the face of relentless, relentless resistance,” wrote Barr in his letter of resignation. Trump immediately tweeted it, adding his own words of praise to the attorney general.
In the six weeks since his loss to Biden, Trump has been fired from his job.
The virus has killed more than 300,000 Americans and today claims more than 3,000 deaths a day. However, the president has barely said a word about the death or the development of the vaccine that could end the pandemic.
At the same time, he has relentlessly tweeted conspiracy theories and false claims about the election, falsely insisting that it had been stolen from him while taking steps to undermine the Biden government before it begins. Most Republicans went with and refused to urge Trump to quit or cooperate with the president-elect.
Many GOP members took their cue from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to stand up to Trump, instead calculating that an outraged Republican base – and an angry president – could help in two Georgia runoffs in January Achieving victories that will dictate control of the Senate. But last week, even McConnell, R-Ky., Bowed to reality, stating that the electoral college had “spoken” and that Biden was the winner.
McConnell’s recognition that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had won came after a lengthy public recap of Trump’s Senate accomplishments. McConnell spoke about Trump for nine minutes, stating that “many of us hoped that the presidential election would lead to a different outcome.” He discussed Biden for a minute.
Some more of Trump’s strongest allies also seemed to believe the election result, if only briefly. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on a cable television appearance that Trump was in a strong position for a possible campaign in 2024 – a detour that confirms he will not become president next year.
Others close to Trump also marked the impending end. His daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump began tweeting photos of moments throughout the semester. His son Eric Trump and family posed for photos just outside the Oval Office. West Wing staff posted photos of Christmas parties at the White House on Instagram, and most of the people pictured were not wearing masks.
Vice President Mike Pence continued his role as Trump’s biggest hype man, even if the cheerleading came with a touch of nostalgia. Pence celebrated the first anniversary of the US Space Force in a ceremony Friday, which he called an integral part of Trump’s legacy.
But since Trump was mostly in hiding, it was left to Pence to publicly meet with those who were distributing the vaccine. And on Friday, he was the one to roll up his sleeves and shoot a public shot in the arm as part of a campaign to convince Americans that the vaccine is safe.
Trump was happy to praise himself throughout his presidency. His cabinet meetings at times resembled “Dear Leader” meetings in authoritarian nations, in which officials compliment the man in charge.
The tone was set at the president’s first cabinet meeting in June 2017, when the only topic to be debated was whether Trump was a great president or the greatest. With the media invitation, Trump praised the achievements of his young administration and claimed that he had achieved more in the first six months than any other president – with “few exceptions” such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Pence said that day that his job was “the greatest privilege of my life”. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was “thrilled”, Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave Trump “hats” and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thanked him “for the opportunity” to work for the president.