Trump Praised His Cabinet at FEMA. Most of Them, at Least
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump gathered almost his entire Cabinet at FEMA headquarters on Wednesday for an annual briefing ahead of hurricane season. He opened the meeting by individually praising most of them -- but not everyone.
“I have a list,” Trump said, before acknowledging his wife, Melania, making her first public appearance since she was hospitalized for several days last month.
Vice President Mike Pence
“Mike, another great job you are doing."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
“We’re keeping him very busy, we’re keeping you so busy, you’re going to be flying, a lot of flying in the next couple weeks. But what a job you’ve done. And we appreciate it.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
“Steve Mnuchin, Steve, wherever you may be. He’s working hard on those taxes and keeping the taxes down. We passed the greatest tax cut in the history of our country and lots of other things.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
“Thank you, Jeff, thank you very much.”
(Trump has repeatedly attacked Sessions on Twitter and said this week he would not have nominated the former Alabama senator for his job if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.)
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
“Keeping very busy, I know that, Ryan, it’s good, it’s good for you, keeping busy and opening up those lands so people can use and enjoy them. Largest landlord in the world, Ryan, nobody knows that. But you’re the largest by far, the largest landlord, it’s almost half the United States if you think about it. So, great job you’re doing.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
“Sonny Perdue and the farms are doing well, and I did the farmers a big favor last night, right? I did a big, big favor for the farmers. We love the farmers and they were happy. I know that Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst were very happy with what we did so thank you for your help, I appreciate it."
(Trump shot down a proposed new policy on biofuels Tuesday.)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
“I appreciate it, Wilbur. We’re renegotiating a lot of trade deals, and they’re really fantastic. We have the worst trade deals ever made and we’re going to have now fair trade deals. We had the worst deals ever made. Nafta is a disaster. World Trade Organization is a disaster. I could go deal after deal and it’s been very unfair to our country, to our workers, to our companies and to everybody else involved. And we’re changing them around rapidly.”
Health Secretary Alex Azar
“Alex, I’m very proud of what you’ve done and you’re coming up in about another month with health care, maybe even sooner than that, you will have a great health care bill -- plan -- it’s going to be great health care for a much smaller price than anybody ever thought possible. I really appreciate that. And our new project that we’re really working on very hard is reducing the cost of prescription medicine. And that’s going to be something that people will not forget. Some people think that’s almost more important than the health care. I’ve had people say, ‘which is more important?’ They’re both important. But we’re reducing the cost of medicine because of what you’re doing and we appreciate it.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
“Secretary Ben Carson who’s got some things going on at HUD that we are very excited. We had lunch the other day, and it’s really inspirational, more than just brick and mortar. It’s really inspirational, Ben, and we appreciate it very much.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
“All you do is produce. You do it in a quiet way and so effective and so incredible. What a job you’re doing with transportation. It was a great decision.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry
“Rick is -- i thought you were going to the VA, but we have great people at the VA. So now we don’t have to worry about the VA. I always thought, Rick -- I put him over the VA and you would have done great there, too. But you are doing a fantastic job at Energy. We’re now the largest in the world at energy, Rick, the largest in the world and we’re now exporting energy for the first time. Never did it. Now we’re exporting energy, but we have become the largest energy producer in the world. Who would have thought? But we’ve opened it up a little bit, Rick, right? And we’ve let people do their thing and they are doing a great job.”
(The Energy Department primarily maintains the U.S. nuclear arsenal and research labs and has little to do with energy production.)
Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter O’Rourke
"The combination of you and Wilkie, I think it will be an unbeatable combination, so thank you for all your help.”
(Trump has former VA acting secretary Robert Wilkie to lead the department.)
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
“I don’t know, what do I say about you? You are doing great and the border is coming along and the wall is going up. We have $1.6 billion spent on phase one and we’ll get additional funding and every week that goes by, people realize it more and more that we have to have the wall. And we’re doing great in San Diego and different places.
(The Washington Post recently reported that Nielsen considered resigning after Trump privately castigated her for an increase in illegal border crossings in 2018.)
Chief of Staff John Kelly
“General John Kelly is here someplace. General, good general. Great job, John.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
“Thank you, Scott, very much. EPA is doing really, really well. And, you know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit. You know that, Scott. But, I tell you, the EPA is doing so well, so many approvals and disapprovals. If they don’t qualify, they don’t qualify but we don’t have to wait 15 years to tell somebody they don’t qualify. And people are really impressed with the job that’s being done at the EPA.”
(The most embattled of Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, Pruitt is under scrutiny for multiple alleged ethics transgressions. Iowa Republican Joni Ernst called him “as swampy as you get” on Tuesday and said Trump should fire him.)
Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon
“I was just being told the other day what you’ve done in small business has been incredible. One of the real stars. Vince and myself and your family, we’re all proud of you. What you’ve done is fantastic.”
(Vince McMahon, her husband, is chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.)
OMB, CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney
“He has two hats on now, right, Mick? Two hats. You’re doing great at both. Office of Management and Budget has been good and our budget this year will be a lot of cutting -- is more of a cutter but we had to get the military through. We had to do some things for Democrats that we don’t normally do. We consider a lot of it waste. In order to get our military and $6 billion for opioids. Which Melania is so heavily involved in. We got that taken care of. Next year, $716 billion for military. Great job.”
(Office of Management and Budget Director Mulvaney is also the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.)
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
“Thanks, Patrick. Really doing a job. You’re bringing in all that money under budget. You know that. You’ll buy two airplanes instead of one for the same price. That’s what we want. He did a fantastic job on that.”
(Trump was probably referring to a contract for a new version of the presidential aircraft, Air Force One.)
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