For a change the biggest news by the Trumps is not from the President but by First Lady Melania Trump who announced her ‘Be Best’ initiative targeted to improve the well-being of children, and to highlight the dangers of social media and opioid abuse.
It was the First Lady’s comments about cyberbullying that drew the most attention at the Rose Garden ceremony announcing the initiative, “I do believe that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”
Her husband has largely been blamed for setting the tone across the country of online acrimony; bullying, name calling and belittling others using digital media. On the very day that Mrs. Trump announced her plans to keep children safe from cyberbullying, the President used Twitter to accuse former Secretary of State John Kerry of “illegal shadow diplomacy” saying he, “… created this MESS in the first place,” and criticized a former FBI employee saying she had sent a record number of emails to her lover. As petty and petulant as these messages are, they pale in comparison to other harsh name calling and accusations the President has made against other rivals online.
This is not the first time that the First Lady has been scrutinized for discussing the issue of cyberbullying. In a March White House meeting with tech executives she said, “I am well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic. I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue.”
President Trump Cuts Children’s Health Funding
The First Lady’s focus on cyberbullying was not the only irony in her speech. The same week that her ‘Be Best’ healthy kid’s initiative was announced, the President slashed funding helping to keep some of our country’s neediest kids healthy. An estimated $7 billion will be cut from the Children’s Health Program.
One area where the First Couple seem to be more in-sync is with their collaborative approach on fighting opioid addiction. In her announcement speech, Mrs. Trump said, “I first learned about the real consequences of our nation’s opioid epidemic during my husband’s campaign. Since then, I have met with and learned from many people who have been affected by this true crisis.” She added, “I went to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio and a panel of doctors briefed me on the devastating effects that opioids are having, but also their important research on neonatal abstinence syndrome.”
Trump took to Twitter this week to echo the First Lady’s concern, “National Prescription Drug #TakeBackDay numbers are in! Another record broken: nearly 1 MILLION pounds of Rx pills disposed! Let’s keep fighting this opioid epidemic, America!”
Trump Exits Iran Deal
In a White House press conference this week, one day after the First Lady stole the show, Trump took back media attention to exit the deal to prohibit Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The deal was negotiated by the Obama administration. He said the agreement only put “Weak limits on the regime’s nuclear program.” He called the Iran nuclear deal an “embarrassment” and a “fiction.” The President said they now have intelligence that, “Conclusively shows their [Iran’s] history of pursuing nuclear weapons.” In his announcement he noted that the United States would put into place the “highest level” sanctions available and that our country would not be “held hostage” by a nation pursuing nuclear weapons.
Reaction to Trump’s announcement was swift and varied. John Kerry ridiculed by Trump days previous took to Twitter to issue the following statement, “Today’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future Administrations to make international agreements.”
The exit may play well to Trump’s voter base but jeopardizes U.S. leadership around the world. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has indicated a willingness to stay in the nuclear deal if other world leaders remain party to the agreement. Those countries include Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.
In his speech exiting the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump alluded to gains being made with another global power with nuclear aspirations, North Korea. He noted that plans including site and date had been made for his meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong-un. Trump also noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was en route to North Korea to further build relationships prior to the meeting between the country’s leaders.
Leaving the Iran nuclear deal is a blow to global confidence toward the United States to keep its word with regard to weapons agreements. It will be telling to see if the stance toward Iran will adversely impact the country’s ability to negotiate successfully with North Korea and if the U.S. will be trusted to remain in any signed agreements.
Negotiating the North Korean deal will be Pompeo’s first major international test as the new Secretary of State. He was clear that he plans to negotiate a deal that will be good for the U.S., “This administration will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our eyes are wide open. It’s time to solve this once and for all. A bad deal is not an option.”
In advance of the meeting between Trump and Kim, three political prisoners that are U.S. citizens are scheduled to be released. As expected, Trump took full credit for their impending release noting how many others had tried to get them released. Two of the three prisoners had been arrested during Trump’s time in office.
Ongoing Russia investigation
With global relations at peak concern and mid-term elections looming, the investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump presidential campaign continues to cast a dark shadow on the White House. Nearly impossible to avoid questioning by reporters asking for daily updates, Trump has taken to criticize the team and process of special investigator, Robert Mueller, a veteran and former director of the FBI. Trump called the investigation a “Witch Hunt.”