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Trump's Cabinet meeting devolves into 71 minutes of gripes and grievances

Alexa Díaz and Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump, trying to dig out from political holes of his own making on top of the expanding House impeachment inquiry, held forth for 71 minutes Monday during what was ostensibly a Cabinet meeting but ended up being a familiar torrent of grievance, defensiveness and bold statements about his expansive view of his own powers.

After reversing on his plan to hold the next Group of 7 summit at his Doral, Fla., golf resort, Trump dismissed criticism that he was profiting off his presidency.

"The Democrats went crazy," Trump said, commenting on criticism that he was using the presidency to enrich himself. "You don't think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than every human being that has ever lived. I don't need promotion. It would have been the greatest G-7 ever.

"You people with this phony Emoluments Clause," Trump said, commenting on the clause in the Constitution that bars federal officials from taking emoluments, or forms of payment or profit, from any "king, prince or foreign state" as an ethics guideline.

The president repeated his claim that he had lost billions of dollars by becoming president, particularly in the hospitality sector, and asserted that holding the G-7 event at Doral would have saved the country money.

"I'm making a big difference for the country," Trump said. "So whether I lost $2 billion, $5 billion, more or less, it doesn't make any difference to me. I don't care. If you're rich, it doesn't matter. I'm doing this for the country."

 

The president has faced fierce bipartisan criticism in the last week over Doral and his order to withdraw 1,000 remaining U.S. troops from northern Syria.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence announced a five-day cease-fire agreement in Syria that would leave Turkey in control of a wide swath of Syrian territory, force U.S.-allied Kurdish militias to withdraw and require the U.S. to drop its newly imposed sanctions against Turkey.

"We have a good relationship with the Kurds," Trump said. "But we never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives. ... Where is the agreement that we need to stay in the Middle East for the rest of civilization to protect the Kurds?"

Since the announcement, both Turkish and Kurdish forces have alleged violations. It's estimated that more than 200,000 people have been displaced in two weeks.

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