Washington Post Editorial: We’ve got some questions for Trump

First Published      Last Updated Jun 21 2017 04:20 pm

The White House has declared that President Donald Trump's tweets are "official statements." But that does not mean that Trump's staff will be any more helpful in explaining the president's often confounding Twitter declarations — or, for that matter, much else about Trump.

"I think the president's tweets speak for themselves" is spokesman Sean Spicer's frequently invoked evasion. It is an open question whether Spicer's goal is to avoid making statements his boss might later contradict or whether he does not have the information he needs to do his job. Indicating the latter, "I have not had a discussion with him about that" is another dodge Spicer uses, such as when he was pressed about whether the president has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and when he was asked whether the president believes in climate change.

If the press secretary cannot speak for the president, who can? "Ultimately, the best messenger is the president himself," Spicer said.

If Trump dislikes how his surrogates perform in front of critical questioning, he can fix that by spending more time at the lectern. He has taken far too few questions from journalists over his first several months in office. He answered dozens in one go during a February news conference, but he has spent little time mixing it up with the press corps since.

In this, Trump is not entirely unlike President Barack Obama, his predecessor, in early 2009. Yet Obama also frequently conducted town hall meetings in which members of the public were allowed to directly address the president, and some asked challenging questions. Moreover, Obama's press team was capable of answering basic questions about his administration.

What would we ask the president, given the chance? Here are a few questions we might start with.

• Why did Trump fail while at a NATO summit meeting to affirm its Article 5, which commits each member state to come to the defense of every other?

• Does he accept that the climate is changing due to human activity?

• Does the president believe GOP health-care reform can lower both premiums and deductibles, which generally move in opposite directions? Does he know that the House bill was not designed to do that?

• Did he know about the Russia connections of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page when he brought them onto his campaign?

What questions would you ask Trump, if given the chance? Send your suggestions to us, at wapo.st/asktrump, and we will publish as many of them as we can. Real answers from the president, however, we cannot guarantee.