The Note: Adultery allegations undercut Trump’s authority
The Trump administration started the week attempting to bolster its authority on the world stage – only to have allegations of adultery continue to erode its credibility at home.
The White House’s retaliatory steps against the Kremlin Monday were sweeping and noteworthy. The president’s spokesperson said plainly that the Russian government’s behavior would not be tolerated, and lawmakers from both sides and international partners around the world applauded.
But this West Wing seems to be standing in quicksand.
The same day the White House tried to meet Russian aggression with decisive steps and bold rhetoric, it struggled under the weight of the salacious accusations regarding the president’s personal life and the actions of his lawyer in the final days before the election. On questions of infidelity, the White House managed only some vague denials.
The fact is, an adult film star and a former Playboy Playmate, telling their stories of hush money and accusing the president of affairs, are making it hard for the White House to move ahead or even stand straight. The mounting legal and ethical questions about campaign finance rules and “who knew what, when,” are taking the footing out from under the place.
Noticeably, except for yet another generic tweet about “fake news,” the president stayed silent on both fronts Monday, sending staff and a Cabinet member to condemn Russia on behalf of the United States and not responding directly to the televised tales about him.
The RUNDOWN with Emily Goodin
Florida’s GOP Gov. Rick Scott tweeted Monday he’ll have a “big announcement” to make on Facebook Live April 9, which political watchers took to be the date he will announce his expected challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
It would be a battle of the titans.
Nelson has eight million dollars cash on hand, according to FEC reports, and Scott is a multi-millionaire who has shown he’s willing to spend his own money on his political career.
The race will also become a barometer of Senate matchups, particularly on guns and school safety.
Scott became a national figure after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
And the two men have already exchanged barbs about the gun issue.
In late February, Nelson criticized Scott for not appearing at a CNN town hall following the Parkland shooting in which 17 students died. And Scott replied about Nelson: “He has been in office for almost 50 years. He hasn’t done anything on gun safety or school safety, and nothing on gun control.”
The gun issue could be a tricky one for both parties as Senate candidates navigate a changing political climate and strong feelings from voters.
A lot of Democrats are on the ballot in gun-friendly states or in red states that Donald Trump carried – states where a pro-gun message was once welcomed and the norm.
And Republicans could face a new political environment where an “A” rating from the NRA is no longer a passing grade.
PHOTO: Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act in the governors office at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., March 9, 2017.