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On Trump’s big applause line, the sound of silence was stunning

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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told Congress on Tuesday that the economy would crash and no policy work could be done if lawmakers investigate his administration or stand in the way of his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria.

The lines, delivered early in his State of the Union address, were so clearly designed to draw cheers from his Republican allies that they even included a rhyme scheme.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said, eliciting an ovation from the GOP.

But then, as he asserted himself further on matters of war and the separation of powers, Trump went a bit too far.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he said. “It just doesn’t work that way!”

Instead of applause, Trump was met at first with a brief moment of lightly scattered laughter and a few lonely claps — and then came steely silence as the president stood at the lectern looking at lawmakers.

Amid Trump’s nearly 5,200 words Tuesday night, that absence of sound spoke loudest. It represented a growing and increasingly fraught disconnect between the president and Congress on two issues that figure to factor prominently in his two-year quest for re-election. And, more broadly, it demonstrated again that the president no longer has the kind of command over GOP foot soldiers in Congress than he once enjoyed.

Just this week, the Senate voted 70-26 on a nonbinding amendment opposing a “precipitous withdrawal” from either Afghanistan or Syria — a reaction to Trump’s plans to bring troops home from both countries — and several Republicans have said they hope the president does not try to execute an end-run around Congress to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While Trump promised Tuesday that “I’ll get it built,” Republicans chose not to fund the wall when they controlled the House and Senate in the last Congress.

And on the heels of Trump slamming top intelligence officials whose testimony on Capitol Hill has contradicted his claims about Iran cheating on the nuclear deal from which he withdrew the U.S., the appetite among lawmakers to heed his call to back down on their oversight role seems to be minimal.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Tuesday night that Trump is mixed up about Congress’ role.

“The president seems to believe that because Congress must legislate, we should not investigate,” Cummings said in a statement. “Of course, the Constitution requires us to do both. That is exactly how it works.”

For Trump, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Syria represents the delivery of a campaign promise — and a potentially powerful plank in his re-election platform.

“As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach,” he said. “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

That line, which reflects the sentiments of many voters, including many Democrats, drew mild applause in the chamber.

Of Afghanistan, he said, “We do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace … it’s time.”

In 2016 and again now, Trump has bet that the voting public is at odds with politicians in Washington about continued U.S. engagement in foreign wars. One data point that supports that theory: when the Senate voted this week to announce its opposition to hasty withdrawals, most of the Democrats running for president or considering bids voted against the amendment and, essentially, with Trump.

The amendment was nothing more than a policy statement — it didn’t restrict Trump in any way — but the fact that the Republican-led Senate chose to vote on it demonstrated an increased willingness among GOP lawmakers to make public their disagreements with the president.

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Get Corbyn out now: Labour support plummets as 43% want him axed BEFORE next election

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SUPPORT for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has plummeted after a new poll has shown a shocking loss of backing from his own party members.

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Louisiana police officer suggests on Facebook that AOC be shot

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A Louisiana police officer is facing criticism over a comment he made last week suggesting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., be shot.

The officer, Charlie Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the Gretna, Louisiana, police force, called Ocasio-Cortez a “vile idiot” who “needs a round, and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” referring to her past job as a bartender, according to a screenshot posted by nola.com. According to the New Orleans-based news outlet, his comment was a reaction to a fake quote attributed to the congresswoman claiming that “we pay soldiers too much.” Both his post and Facebook account have since been taken down.

Gretna’s police chief, Arthur Lawson, told nola.com he found the post “disturbing,” adding, “This will not go unchecked.”

“I’m not going to take this lightly and this will be dealt with on our end,” he told the outlet. “It’s not something we want someone that’s affiliated with our department to make these types of statements. That’s not going to happen.”

He said that while he did not think the post constituted an actual threat, it was likely a violation of his department’s social media policy.

A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez declined a request to comment from NBC News.

The episode comes amid a week of backlash over comments President Donald Trump made that Ocasio-Cortez and three other freshmen congresswomen of color should “go back” to where they “originally came from” rather than criticize his administration. All four lawmakers are U.S. citizens and three of them, including Ocasio-Cortez, were born in the U.S.

Ocasio-Cortez was also the subject of violent and misogynistic Facebook posts in a private group where nearly 10,000 current and former Customs and Border Protection agents exchanged thoughts, a ProPublica investigation revealed.

And the four congresswomen targeted in Trump’s tweets, Ocasio-Cortez, Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were the subject of a recent Facebook post by the Republican County Chairmen’s Association of Illinois, which labeled them the “jihad squad.”

“Political Jihad is their game,” the since-deleted post read. “If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology you’re racist.”

The state’s GOP chairman, Tim Schneider, disavowed the post Sunday night.

“Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation,” Mr. Schneider said, adding, “I urge everyone who opposes them to keep the rhetoric focused on policy and ideology.”



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How Boris Johnson and girlfriend Carrie will put Queen in an awkward position

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BORIS JOHNSON is preparing to move his girlfriend Carrie Symonds into Downing Street with him this weekend. But the couple are set to shake up royal protocol later in the summer.

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