President Donald Trump spent the early hours of Christmas Eve attacking his political enemies and criticizing the Federal Reserve, as the government entered its third day of partial shutdown and markets tanked yet again.
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Trump, who canceled a planned vacation to Florida as 800,000 federal employees remain without pay, spent the morning posting his grievances on Twitter.
The president’s posts come amid growing uncertainty in Washington. The shutdown continued without a resolution in sight. Meanwhile the administration itself remains in a state of flux after the surprise departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis, which Trump accelerated by two months over the weekend.
As stocks tumbled following the worst week for markets since the 2008 financial crisis, the president wrote on Twitter that the “only problem our economy has” is the Fed, accusing the central bank of not having “a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders.”
The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate to keep prices stable and achieve maximum employment. The Fed aims to accomplish those goals primarily by setting interest rates at a level that will prevent runaway inflation or deflation.
Last week, the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year and signaled it would hike rates twice in 2019.
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The president’s tirade stretched beyond the economy though, which he has touted as a symbol of his agenda’s success two years into his presidency. Trump also blasted unnamed U.S. senators who he said misunderstood his foreign policy, and “Virtually every Democrat” whose motives for opposing funding for his proposed border wall he called into question.
“It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it,” the president wrote.
He said that Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, “was the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal (now terminated) approved by Little Bob Corker.”
McGurk served as an advisor on Middle East issues under President George W. Bush before President Barack Obama appointed him to his present role in 2015.
The cash Trump is referring to is money owed to Iran for U.S. arms purchased prior to the 1979 revolution but never delivered in light of the break in U.S.-Iran relations. Of the total $1.7 billion paid to Iran in 2016, $1.3 billion was accrued interest, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The criticism of Corker, the Tennessee Republican who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a return to an old and misleading critique: that Corker is soft on Iran and backed the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. In fact, Corker led GOP opposition to the accord and is a prominent Iran hawk.
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Trump also blasted news reports that he had vented at his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker his frustration with the federal investigation into Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia during the 2016 election, and told federal prosecutors that the president directed him to commit campaign finance violations, which the president has denied.
Trump said the reports about his conversations with Whitaker were incorrect.
“I never ‘lashed out’ at the Acting Attorney General of the U.S., a man for whom I have great respect,” Trump wrote. “This is a made up story, one of many, by the Fake News Media!”
In between his tweets criticizing “sympathizers” of McGurk and challenging the Fed, Trump delivered a statement in all capital letters.
“AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!” the president wrote.