Democrats immediately panned the executive actions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, appearing Sunday morning on ABC News’ “This Week,” called them “paltry.”
“Unfortunately, the president’s executive orders, described in one word, could be paltry; in three words, unworkable, weak and far too narrow,” the New York Democrat said. “The event at the country club is just what Trump does, a big show, but it doesn’t do anything.”
A White House official on Saturday said the president had the “upper hand” by moving forward with actions and showing how little the Democrats were willing to actually negotiate.
“It just shows Trump is willing to get things done and work on the weekends, unlike Chuck and Nancy,” said Jason Miller, a Trump campaign adviser, referring to the minority leader and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But throughout negotiations the president himself was largely missing, although he said he was updated regularly by his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. And while the country has been rocked by the pandemic, the president has not spoken to Pelosi since last year, and suggested he wouldn’t anytime soon.
“We’ll see what happens, but right now they’re not ready,” Trump said, referring to Democratic lawmakers. “And they’re not ready because, frankly, I don’t think they care about people.”
The president was happy with how the news conferences went, according to aides, especially in the company of members from his club. Some came straight from happy hour holding glasses of wine.
Ahead of the first news conference, according to CNN, the president was heard on a microphone telling members: “You’ll get to meet the fake news tonight. You’ll get to see what I have to go through. Who’s there? Oh, all my killers are there, wow. So you’ll get to see some of the people that we deal with every day.”
People in the room booed and hissed when a reporter asked why members at his club appeared to be flaunting New Jersey guidelines by crowding into the room. Trump called it a “peaceful protest” at his country club.
“You know, you have an exclusion in the law. It says peaceful protest or political activity, right?” Trump said. “I call it a peaceful protest because they heard you were coming up and they know the news is fake, they know it better than anybody.”
The weekend was meant to help Trump reset. On Friday, the president met with his top campaign advisers, including Bill Stepien and Jason Miller, at Bedminster, and spent time Friday and Saturday with one of his closest allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). On Saturday morning, Trump and Graham called into a South Carolina Republican Party meeting, according to a person familiar. First lady Melania Trump and their son Barron spent the weekend at Bedminster, too.
The weekend away was also part of a big fundraising push by the Republican National Committee. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel traveled with the president on Marine One and accompanied him at exclusive fundraisers on Thursday in Ohio, and then over the weekend in the Hamptons and New Jersey. On Saturday, Trump got a boost from hobnobbing with friends at fundraisers at the ritzy homes of the Wall Street billionaire John Paulson and Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., in the Hamptons that raised $15 million for Trump Victory.
His Sunday fundraiser took place on the shore of New Jersey in Long Branch, where people acted as if there was no pandemic. Supporters, not socially distanced and without masks, crowded along the side of the road to see the president.
But even though the pandemic seemed far away for some of the public in New Jersey, the president had a gut-wrenching reminder of the virus’s toll when he visited. His final fundraiser of the weekend was held at the home of Stanley Chera, an old friend of the president’s and a fellow real estate tycoon who died of the coronavirus this spring.
“A great person, and a very early supporter,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t make it.”