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Opinion The Trump veto threat: Another presidential temper tantrum

President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Feb. 28.  (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The Post reports:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump appeared set to back down and sign a sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and avoid a government shutdown, according to senior legislative aides.
In a morning tweet, Trump said he might veto the omnibus bill because it does nothing to address the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” and does not fully fund his border wall.

Actually it is the president who abandoned the DACA kids. He was offered a deal by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — money for the border wall in exchange for DACA relief — but senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, along with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) nixed it. Or does Trump not remember?

On Thursday, the White House assured the public that Trump was on board with the omnibus bill, and maybe he was — then. Now? He wasn’t and then he was. Maybe he panicked momentarily, realizing he lost his wall and will get blamed for DACA. Maybe he figured that between Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, the fear-inducing swap of H.R. McMaster for John Bolton as national security adviser, the stock-market plunge, the highly criticized beginning of a potential trade war, and the departure of John Dowd, the voters might get the idea the wheels are coming off the bus. The solution? More chaos!

Whatever his intention, Trump is communicating to Congress and the entire world that his word is worthless, that when you think you have a deal, you really don’t. What then are the Europeans, in discussion with the administration over his threatened exit from the Iran nuclear deal, the South Koreans, the North Koreans, our trading partners and just about everyone else on the planet supposed to think? The answer, sadly, is that Trump is irrational and unreliable. Our allies will take matters into their own hands (e.g., the European Union may decide it is better to deal with the relative certainty of the Iran deal than the Trump-induced chaos); our adversaries will take aggressive action, unaware of what our bottom line really is.

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On the veto Trump apparently was bluffing. Onh the Iran nuclear deal, tariffs, personnel changes and the Russia investigation —it is not clear whether Trump is panicked bluffing, or is panicked and so desperate as to take dramatic, dangerous action to preserve his image of a “winner,” and to convince himself it is he, not any adviser or lawyer, who deserves “credit.”

As Ian Bassin, the executive director of the nonpartisan Protect Democracy group tweeted, “With Bolton, [Joseph E.] diGenova and [Mike] Pompeo feeding Trump’s worst instincts, we’re entering incredibly dangerous times.” (He could add to the list Peter Navarro, Cotton, the right-wing echo chamber and his favorite Fox News propagandists — all of whom egg on Trump without regard for the catastrophe that might await us if he followed their advice.)

What is to be done? High on the list is electing a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress. Only Democrats are willing to confront him, hold impeachment over his head and deny him legislation to implement his ideas.

Next, more than ever, the permanent civil service and the military must fully embrace their responsibilities as servants of the country, not of the president. They must neither lie nor violate the law, and they must utilize available whistleblower protections to alert the country to danger. Where appropriate, they must refuse to take orders and be willing to suffer the consequences, as was acting attorney general Sally Yates when she refused to enforce the president’s Muslim travel ban.

And finally, while exceptionally unlikely to work, public pressure must be brought to bear to force cowering congressional Republicans to act to protect the president from himself — protection for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, restatement of Congress’s sole power to authorize war and rejection of unqualified nominees.

Trump is never going to get better, and chances are he’ll get much worse. Everyone should act accordingly.