TRUMP HOLDS FINAL CABINET MEETING TO HEAR TONS OF FLATTERY
President Donald Trump’s administration is ending how it began, with over-the-top declarations of praise for the chief executive from his courtiers and members of the Cabinet, which met for the 25th and final time, Jonathan Lemire reported for the Associated Press (AP).
But now the flattery is mixed with a sense of finality as key people in the president’s orbit are beginning to turn the page and acknowledge his defeat. Trump himself keeps to the Oval Office, still fighting the Election Day results and offering scant acknowledgement of the death and suffering Americans are bearing in the darkest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His Cabinet meetings at times resembled “Dear Leader” sessions in authoritarian nations where officials gush compliments for the man in charge. The tone was set at the president’s first Cabinet meeting, in June 2017, when the only subject for debate appeared to whether Trump was a great president or the greatest.
With the media invited to watch, Trump extolled the achievements of his young administration, asserting that he had accomplished more than any president in his first six months — with “few exceptions,” like President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Pence that day declared his job was “the greatest privilege of my life.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was “thrilled,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave his “hats off” to Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross offered thanks “for the opportunity” to work for the president.
Perhaps the strongest words came from chief of staff Reince Priebus: “On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda.”
Much changed on his 25th and perhaps final Cabinet meeting. Several top officials were not there, including Barr, whose resignation was pending; acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who had tested positive for COVID-19; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was quarantining because he had been exposed to someone with the virus. Whether there was effusive praise of Trump remains unknown. The president did not let the media in.