Flattery in Japan in rearview, Trump returns to DC snarls
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four days of fun and flattery in Tokyo are over for President Donald Trump.
The sumo wrestling, golf and red carpet strolls give way to the same Washington stew of political, policy and legal snarls that Trump never completely left behind during his four days in Japan , judging by his Twitter feed.
Trump returned home Tuesday still in a running feud with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, eager to diminish 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden, weary of Democratic investigations into his administration and business dealings and contending with a daunting list of foreign policy challenges. Members of Congress, for their part, have largely cleared out of the steamy city for an extended Memorial Day recess.
The past four days in Japan’s capital, by contrast, seemed tailor-made for Trump, who relishes being the center of attention. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shrewdly designed the visit as a series of history-making firsts that put Trump front and center.
Abe made clear that Trump was the guest of honor — there was only one — at the long weekend’s festivities.
News helicopters hovered as Trump’s motorcade snaked around the city and above Mobara Country Club to videotape the leaders as they golfed. Throngs of photographers gathered outside Trump’s hotel and on street corners to snap photos as the president passed by.
Abe timed the visit so that Trump would be the first head of state to meet Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito.
At the Imperial Palace, Trump walked along red carpets during a pageantry-filled welcome ceremony. Later, he was the honored guest for a six-course French meal at the palace.
Trump also became the first American president to attend a major sumo wrestling tournament and — in another first — award the champion a trophy he created and brought with him called the “President’s Cup.” He said he hoped the Japanese would continue to bestow the Trump cup for hundreds of years.
His reception in Washington, by contrast, will be animated by the bitterness with which he and Congress left the capital city last week.
On Friday and Monday, two different GOP legislators blocked a vote on a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill that also includes aid to farms ravaged by storms and flooding. They objected to efforts to pass it without a roll call vote.
Hefty foreign policy challenges also loom for Trump.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month tested short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017. The tests alarmed U.S. allies in the region — including Japan — who have been hoping for progress in stalled U.S.-North Korea negotiations. In Japan, Abe and Trump national security adviser John Bolton both said the tests violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. Trump disagreed .
Instead, he said he wasn’t bothered by the latest missile tests and had faith that Kim would eventually give up his nuclear ambitions in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions on his country.
On other fronts, Trump is sending more troops to the Mideast as tensions with Iran intensify, the longest war in U.S. history continues to churn in Afghanistan, political upheaval rages in Venezuela, Trump is trying to tap more military assets to deter migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and his trade war with China remains unresolved.
Shadowing all of those issues — and irking Trump — is the prospect that House Democrats could launch an impeachment inquiry against him. The party’s liberals and a third of the 23 Democratic presidential contenders are calling for Trump’s impeachment based on what they see as signs in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that the president obstructed justice.
Pelosi and most other Democratic contenders are resisting the push for impeachment — for now. Impeachment matters deeply to the party’s base but remains unpopular with most Americans.
Still, the clamor from the left seems to be growing. Pelosi has been willing to say that Trump “is engaged in a cover-up” that could be impeachable. That statement provoked Trump last week into blowing up talks on a deal to fix the nation’s roads and bridges and declaring that he would refuse to work with Democrats until they shut down what he called “phony investigations.”
Things went downhill from there. Before legislators bolted for airports and train stations, Pelosi had questioned Trump’s fitness for office and he had called her “crazy” while declaring himself “an extremely stable genius.”
Even so, there were faint glimmers of possibility.
“When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues,” Pelosi tweeted.
Trump suggested they focus on trade — specifically, his deal to update NAFTA, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“We will work with them,” Trump said Monday in Tokyo. “I would think Nancy Pelosi would approve that.”
Democrats want the deal to include stronger enforcement provisions, among other possible changes.
Trump won’t be in Washington for long. His travel schedule is tight the next few months. He’s off to the United Kingdom, France and Ireland next week. And he’s due back in Japan for the Group of 20 summit in late June.
“Looking forward to it,” Abe said at a joint press conference Monday with Trump.
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
Superville and Colvin reported from Tokyo.