President Trump campaigned as one of the world’s greatest dealmakers, but after nine months of struggling to broker agreements, lawmakers in both parties increasingly consider him an untrustworthy, chronically inconsistent and easily distracted negotiator .
As Trump prepares to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to unify his party ahead of a high-stakes season of votes on tax cuts and budget measures, some Republicans are openly questioning his negotiating abilities and devising strategies to keep him from changing his mind.
The president’s propensity to create diversions and follow tangents has kept him from focusing on his legislative agenda and forced lawmakers who might be natural allies on key policies into the uncomfortable position of having to answer for his behavior and outbursts.
For instance, Trump’s news conference last Monday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which was orchestrated to project GOP unity on taxes, instead gave birth to the self-inflicted controversy over Trump’s treatment of fallen soldiers, which set the White House on the defensive and dominated the national media for seven days.
Sen. #Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) spent weeks cooking up a health-care bill with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — and felt he suddenly had Trump’s attention and encouragement when the president called him Oct. 7.
Dinner with his wife interrupted by the call, Alexander said he sat on a curb outside a restaurant for 15 minutes talking about health care with Trump, whom he said supported reaching a bipartisan deal.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump called him one morning that same week, interrupting his workout at the gym to tell him, “Let’s do some bipartisan work on health care!”