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Donald Trump

I’ve achieved so much, Trump tells odd cabinet meeting, going around table to take their gushing praise

Never has a president passed more legislation, says Trump, who is yet to pass any major legislation through a Congress controlled by his own party

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 7:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 9:46pm

Great president or greatest?

That appeared to be the only question at US President Donald Trump’s first meeting of his full Cabinet on Monday, as top aides took turns piling praise on the boss at a strange event filled with wild and unfounded boasts.

After Trump extolled the achievements of his young administration, asserting that he had achieved more than any president in his first six months —with “few exceptions,” like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — his Cabinet piled on the accolades.

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“Never has there been a president … who has passed more legislation, done more things,” Trump declared, even though he hasn’t passed any major legislation through a Congress, which is controlled by his party.

Mr President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people
Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff

He hailed his plan for the “single biggest tax cut in American history,” even though he hasn’t proposed a plan and Congress hasn’t acted on one. He said “no one would have believed” his election could have created so many new jobs over the past seven months (1.1 million), even though more jobs (1.3 million) were created in the previous seven months.

Typically, a president’s initial comments mark the end of on-camera coverage of White House Cabinet meetings, with administration aides then escorting members of the small press “pool” out of the room. But Trump invited the cameras to remain as he called on his senior-most advisers to “go around, name your position” and say a few words about the administration’s work.

“Start with Mike,” Trump said, referring to his vice president. Mike Pence responded by saying that serving as Trump’s number two is “the greatest privilege of my life.”

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“An honour to be here,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions , who recently was reported to have offered his resignation amid strains over the Russia investigation. Sessions told Trump that law enforcement officers “are so thrilled that we have a new idea that we’re going to support them.”

“My hat is off to you,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry , referring to the president’s explanation of his decision to abandon a global climate change agreement.

Eventually came Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff.

“On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people,” Priebus said. “And we’re continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals.”

The internet pounced immediately, perhaps because Priebus’s use of the word “blessing” made him sound more like a father giving Thanksgiving Grace than a presidential aide discussing policy.

The meeting came as the White House struggles to advance its agenda amid the investigations into Russia’s election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. So far no major legislation has made its way through to law, although Trump has issued a series of executive orders with mixed results.

The spectacle was so unusual that Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and his aides made a video mocking it. Aides praised Schumer’s hair and his performance on the Sunday talk shows.

Additional reporting by CNBC