Analysis: Trump stayed under the radar this week but his fury is ‘bubbling behind the scenes’


"What does it tell you that the feel-good events in Washington these days are funerals?" asked journalist Susan Glasser in a piece for the New Yorker this week.

Somehow, a politician's death — and the associated ritual of pomp, ceremony and complete cable news domination — has become a symbolic means of reminding the country "that civility is not a dirty word and that partisan combat is not a permanent state of being".

At least for a few hours.

External Link: My god people are still doing these stories? External Link: Well, President Trump hasnt spoken publicly since arriving home from the G20

The New York Times reports that US President Donald Trump was apparently proud of himself for staying under the radar while the commemorations played out.

(This is exactly the kind of article that will have Mr Trump shouting Fake News from the rooftops, by the way.)

External Link: Trump has been snappish with aides most of the week, miffed in part by so many ceremonial events not related to him. He was impatient for the memorials to end but expressed pride in himself for remaining publicly civil External Link: Really remarkable exchange a few minutes ago, after Trump offered kind words about GHWB. Reporter asked if he regrets his past comments attacking him. Trump paused for a split second and then, ignored it completely and tried to clear the room: "Thank you very much everybody"

Mr Trump had few connections with George HW Bush other than his job title, although relations with the Bush family are prickly after he dubbed Jeb Bush "low-energy Jeb" during the 2016 campaign.

George HW Bush and his late wife Barbara subsequently voted for Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump was not asked to speak at the state funeral, but rather than excluding him entirely (as John McCain did), the Bush family made sure he was there in a neutralised fashion.

The moments of awkwardness and poignancy

This needed no words however:

External Link: Glad I wasn't the one planning the seating


It was the first time Mr Trump had been in the same room as his predecessors and their wives since his inauguration.

He shook hands with the Obamas, ignored the Clintons, the Carters and the Bush family. Much was made of the body language.

Trump shakes hands with Obamas but not Clintons External Link: Trump critics call him out for not reciting the Apostles Creed at the funeral for former President George HW Bush

And many interpreted the various eulogies as jabs at the current President.

External Link: Best quote of the day that may not make the final version of the story but still worth appreciating — from Alan Simpson External Link: Former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney: "When George Bush was President of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader External Link: "Some have said this is an end of an era. But it doesn't have to be. Perhaps this is an invitation to fill the void that has been left behind" — stirring words from the Rev Dr Russell Jones Levenson, Jr's eulogy of George HW Bush

The funeral itself had lots of poignant moments provoking reflection.

External Link: Actually so lovely that these two friends are sitting beside each other today Former US President George W Bush bows his head while standing at a lectern.

George W Bush almost managed to get through the whole tribute to his father without breaking down.

That was until he imagined his Dad hugging daughter Robin, who died of leukemia aged 3, and being reunited with wife Barbara, who died just a few months ago.

(Tissues required.)

George W Bush gives emotional tribute to father External Link: That's what brothers are for. Jeb Bush passes George Bush a tissue following emotional eulogy

Flynn 'sang like a canary' for Mueller

President Donald Trump passes Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford, left, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

So the death of a president kept another one relatively quiet for a few days.

But you can bet Mr Trump's fury is bubbling behind the scenes as pieces of special counsel Robert Mueller's jigsaw puzzle continue to interlock.

As part of his continued strategy to release bits and pieces of the investigation via the courts, Mr Mueller submitted sentencing advice to the judge in the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Flynn, whose most memorable moments include chanting "lock her up" about Mrs Clinton at the Republican National Convention and being sacked after just 24 days for lying to Mike Pence, is likely to escape Mr Mueller's investigation with little to no jail time.

External Link: “If I” – finger at himself – “a guy who knows this business – If I did a tenth of what she did…

In a highly anticipated (and, might we add, long-awaited) sentencing memo, Mr Mueller wrote that Mr Flynn's "assistance to the Government was substantial".

External Link: At 8:30 I stop waiting for the Flynn memo and start writing a hit piece on External Link: SPOTTED: Mueller en route to file Flynn brief

In other words, he sang like a canary.

So what did he say exactly?

Take a look at these redactions, which the internet had a field day with of course.

External Link: Really would like to know more here External Link: eyes emoji

So what does the document mean for Mr Trump and those in his orbit?

External Link: The words “substantial assistance” in the documents will have many people worried. It means everything Flynn has provided is credible and beneficial to investigators. The 5K letter filed under seal contains all the juicy details we will hopefully get to see one day

Thankfully, we should know more soon — pending redactions that is.

External Link: Tomorrow will be another big day in the Mueller investigation. Newsy filings are expected in two cases: Manafort (what he lied about) and Cohen (how he helped). Papadopoulos will be released from prison in Wisconsin. (And Comey has a closed-door interview on the Hill, too.)


Trump tweets didn't go down well with China

Coming off his G20 multilateral with China's President Xi Jinping, Mr Trump boasted the two countries had reached a truce in the escalating trade war: the US would impose no new tariffs for 90 days, and China would agree to follow intellectual property laws and generally buy more US goods while an expanded deal is reached.

But there was no written agreement.

So when Mr Trump started tweeting as if the US was in the power position, threatening new penalties if a better deal was not reached, it didn't go down all that well with China and rattled markets.

External Link: We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all – at which point we will be charging major Tariffs against Chinese product being shipped into the United States. Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal – either now or into the future External Link: I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN

China didn't say anything about the truce until Thursday.

And in the meantime, there was rampant speculation that negotiations couldn't be successful in a 90-day window.

Mr Trump changed his tone.

External Link: Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops, from Argentina. Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said at our long and hopefully historic meeting. ALL subjects discussed

But not before the stock market had plunged due to the uncertainty.

External Link: A snapshot of stock market action the last two days The Chinese Foreign Ministry says Beijing wants answers from the US and Canada

To make matters EVEN worse at a delicate moment, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the request of the US, possibly over suspected violations of US sanctions against Iran.

The CFO is the daughter of the founder of Huawei, and her arrest will place further pressure on the already tense relationship.

Republicans at odds with Trump over Saudi Arabia

A private meeting with the CIA Director confirmed the suspicions of several Republican senators that Saudi Arabia's crown prince was responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

External Link: Sen Lindsey Graham says Saudi Arabia's crown prince is a "wrecking ball" and is "complicit in the murder" of Khashoggi to the "highest level possible." "Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving, but not at all costs," he adds

Some are threatening to pass a bill to strip US financial support from Saudi Arabia's war with Yemen, and withdraw backing for billions of dollars in US arms sales.

This puts Republicans at direct odds with their own President.

External Link: Corker was at a loss at how Trump came away with such a different interpretation about what happened with Khashoggi. "I don't know what presentation he's seen. … All I know is, I know they have access to the same intelligence I have. They can have Gina come over at any time."

News at last of a US ambassador to Australia

Meet Arthur B Culvahouse:

External Link: The Nominee for US ambassador to Australia Arthur B Culvahouse Jr before a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. Camo ⁦@aidowilson⁩ and I were told he cant answer questions (ie why no ambassador for two years?!) unless and until hes confirmed. Sadly

The US finally has a nominee for its new ambassador to Australia.

The seat has been vacant since 2016, provoking questions about how seriously the US values the relationship.

Mr Trump's original pick, Admiral Harry Harris, was suddenly diverted to South Korea as tensions between the US and North Korea escalated, and high-profile senator Bob Corker turned down the job.

Though Culvahouse still has to make it past a confirmation hearing, the international lawyer and political advisor is expected to put an end to the diplomatic limbo.

And the highlight of this week goes to Sully the dog

Finally, it feels only fitting that we end this week on the feel-good effects of a president's commemoration.

Sully, George HW Bush's service dog, is here to remind us all that there's good in the world.

External Link: Mission complete. #Remembering41

Believe it or not, even this photo became the subject of rancour after this article in Slate suggested that the outpouring of love for Sully was over the top.

We choose to ignore it.

Rest in peace, Mr President, and Barbara and Robin.