Political battles, campaigns, and even presidencies tend to be defined by the questions that frame them. If the average American is focused on certain questions about a president, then that presidency is perceived to be about those questions, regardless of what the answers are, or even if we know the answers yet. So everything changed today about Donald Trump’s presidency when the question was raised in the White House briefing room of whether Trump is going to resign.
It doesn’t matter if Palmer Report asks that question. While our audience consists of a few million politically knowledgeable people, the average American sitting at home isn’t reading us. But it matters when the reporters in the White House briefing, who have been chosen to be there by the White House, are asking the question – are doing so on national television, in a manner which forces Trump’s Team to answer the question.
Naturally, when esteemed reporter April Ryan asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today if Trump is considering “stepping down” in the wake of the FBI’s raid of Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, the answer was an emphatic “no.” But again, the answer doesn’t matter here, so much as the fact that this is now the question Trump’s White House is having to answer. Numerous major news outlets are now reporting that the question was asked and answered.
Even Fox News has felt compelled today to report the story for the purpose of slamming April Ryan, which means that Fox viewers are now sitting at home wondering if Donald Trump might actually resign, even if their answer in their own head is “I hope not.” This question asked today emboldens Trump’s detractors to push the resignation angle, it forces his supporters to push back against the idea, and it causes those in the middle to view Trump’s presidency as being defined by the question of whether he’s going to resign over this scandal. The topic of Trump’s resignation is now officially on the table.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report