As the partial shutdown of the federal government enters its 17th day, the end does not appear to be in sight. Over the weekend, negotiations between the White House and Congress failed to make progress, with President Trump’s insistence on $5.7 billion in border funding still the principal sticking point (unsurprisingly, the administration’s offer to build a “steel barrier” instead of a “concrete wall” has not washed with newly empowered House Democrats, who have blasted the whole enterprise as immoral). Shutdowns are always tricky stories for journalists, with complex technical negotiations often hiding behind political grandstanding. This shutdown—now the third-longest in US history—is even trickier, with lies, misleading statistics, and the volatile nature of Trump’s decision-making all thrown into the mix.
After a couple of tumultuous years, President Donald Trump seems to have reached the conclusion that he has had quite enough of generals. Now, as a retired admiral, I have certainly been annoyed over the years by a number of generals. Yet by and large, I’ve found them quite effective as leaders, organizers, planners and strategists–the type one would expect from those who have proved their mettle in the long hierarchical climb up the ranks of the modern armed forces. Additionally, the vast majority are driven by integrity and the values of courage, honor, commitment–while having been tested in life-and-death situations. All in all, a pretty good selection of qualities. So why, after hiring quite a few, is the President turning on them?
And Sanders created a fresh headache for the administration when she said the White House was still reviewing a proposal from Putin to allow access by Russian law enforcement officials to Americans whom the Kremlin accuses of unspecified crimes in return for US access to interrogations of Russian agents indicted for their alleged roles in interfering in the 2016 election. The State Department, by contrast, rejected the proposal — which Trump days earlier had called an “incredible offer — as “absurd.”