WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is scheduled to emerge publicly Tuesday in a visit to a stretch of Texas border wall, providing him what could be one of his first opportunities to speak to the American public since losing his social media megaphone.
Over the weekend after the Capitol riot he incited, Trump remained silent inside a White House in tumult, exacerbated by staff departures, with decisions regarding him and his schedule being made and then canceled.
The final days of his presidency could become the most defining, as Trump is estranged from even his most devout allies in Washington and once again facing impeachment.
Trump remains defiant, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. He has no plans to resign despite the bipartisan calls for him to leave office before his term expires on Jan. 20, and he has also indicated he thinks his supporters will be enraged by the decisions by Twitter and other tech companies to block him. To those he is speaking to, he continues to falsely claim that he won the election.
A Marine was stationed outside the West Wing on Monday morning, often a sign that the president has left the residence and is in the Oval Office. He awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, considered a high civilian honor, to Rep. Jim Jordan in a private ceremony Monday. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to accept the award.
A growing number of his onetime allies publicly rebuked or privately avoided him over the weekend, and he could not strike back on Twitter after it banned him Friday.
It is a dramatic yet unsurprising end to Trump’s presidency after four years of near-daily controversies that tested the guardrails of democracy and resulted in the deadly attack on the Capitol as a pro-Trump mob tried to overthrow the results of the election. But it is a jarring turn of events for a man who was seen as the most powerful person in the Republican Party one week ago and a likely 2024 candidate.
Not only has Trump been unable to vent his frustrations to his millions of social media followers, but he is also left with few allies to listen to or amplify his message. Trump’s presidential routine — watching Fox News, posting on Twitter and calling friends and allies — has largely been disrupted.
Longtime GOP confidants and advisers, like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a regular golfing partner, have publicly blasted Trump’s behavior, while others have simply been avoiding the president.
“People just don’t want to be in his line of sight,” a former White House official said. Aside from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, and a few other loyalists, “no one’s even engaging.”
Most notably absent from Trump’s inner circle in the final days has been Vice President Mike Pence. The two hadn’t spoken since Wednesday, nor did Trump call to check on Pence and his family while the vice president was being held in a secure location during the riot.
On Monday evening, Trump and Pence met in the Oval Office, the first time the two had spoken since Wednesday morning, after the president repeatedly called for his second-in-command to break his oath and somehow attempt to intervene in the tabulation of the Electoral College votes, which Pence did not have the authority to do.
Before last week’s events, Pence served not only as one of Trump’s most loyal allies but also as one of his few friends in Washington, former administration officials have said.
Inside the White House, Trump has a shrinking staff to help him carry out any last-minute moves. Several aides and Cabinet members have resigned after Trump’s remarks.
House Democrats have indicated they plan to move quickly to begin the impeachment process.
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Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Sunday became the third Republican elected official to call for Trump’s resignation, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Friday that Trump should be removed from office.
Trump has been increasingly focused on pardons in his final days, and there have been serious discussions about his pardoning himself, two former White House officials said.
He has been working with White House counsel to “figure out the paperwork piece of that,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
The president has also been asking staffers in recent days whether they would like a pardon pre-emptively, even though none has been charged with or publicly admitted to a crime. Trump has also discussed pardoning members of his family pre-emptively, as well as some of his close confidants.