Seven More Days In May
Day One: May 23, 2017
President Trump knew something was wrong when the brass stopped saluting him. At first he attributed it to the weather. It was raining when he descended the stairs on Trump Force One and the military escorts waiting to meet him were barely visible through the squall.
The President had enjoyed his flight from Miami. He was glad he’d pushed to replace the military’s aging Boeing 747 with his much more luxurious signature aircraft. Trump was determined not to let the constraints and traditions of his new job force him to downgrade any part of his lifestyle, so the muted grays and soft carpets of the boring version had given way to the gilded glamour of the new presidential jet. Melania had already posed for photos onboard for Paris Vogue, and Bravo was talking about developing a reality show about the crew. Memo to self, he thought, hire more Mexicans.
Now, he was rushing towards the presidential limo, and it wasn’t until he was safely behind the reinforced steel doors and composing his first tweet of the ride that he realized what had been missing from the usual greeting routine. I wonder what’s up with that, he thought. And then, as was so often his habit, he immediately broadcast that thought on Twitter: “Didn’t get a salute from brass mtg TF1. What’s up w/that? DISRESPECTFUL!”
As the presidential motorcade lumbered towards the White House, the president managed four more tweets, called in to two cable news stations, and ordered the blockade of three more harbors along the coast of Mexico.
The gold leaf gates of the White House east entrance swung open, triggering the recording of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” that had played before all of his rallies during the campaign. He had promised not to redecorate the White House, but he didn’t see anything wrong with having some fun with the exterior of the property. The “Trump” sign along the fence pulsed red, white and blue as the car entered the drive, and the guards tipped their “Make America Great Again” hats in response to a wave of his beautiful hands.
“Putin’s on the phone,” Chief of Staff Corey Lewandowski said as the President entered the Oval Office. “He wants to thank you for the steaks.”
The President settled behind the Louis XIV gilt desk that he had brought down from his New York penthouse. They had wanted him to keep JFK’s Resolute desk in the Oval Office, but he couldn’t see himself making deals sitting there.
Trump picked up the phone and gestured to Lewandowski to leave the room.
“Mr. President, how are you today?” Trump asked. He had learned from previous encounters with Putin that the Russian appreciated formality and respect. Sometimes, when they were alone, Trump called him by his nickname, Voloyda, but this conversation was going to take a serious turn.
“I am well, Mr. President. I trust you are also well.”
Trump leaned back in his chair. “So you liked those steaks we sent? Good, good, you know I have great cows, the very best cows. Anytime you want some more, just let me know.”
The President opened a drawer and removed a TRUMP branded folder.
“I want to talk to you about an idea I’ve had. The more time I spend with our military the more I’m convinced we need your help. Our generals are total losers. They’re so worried about being politically correct it’s a disaster.”
Putin chuckled. “Da, Donald, the people of Chechnya and Ukraine wouldn’t say that about us.”
“They sure wouldn’t,” Trump agreed. “You totally schlonged us in Crimea. So I was thinking that I’d like us to have some joint military exercises to see what we could learn from each other. We could start with your army coming to one of our bases, like in Texas. I’ll get a lot of pushback from the media and Congress, but who cares — this will be tremendous.”
There was a pause at the other end of the line and Trump heard Putin say something in Russian to someone else in the room.
“We’d need total access to your facilities, Mr. President. Nothing could be off limits.”
“We’ll work it out. It’s gonna be unbelievable, the greatest.”
President Trump hung up the phone. As he did so, in a basement office near the White House situation room, a military aide removed his headset and dialed a number on a secure telephone line.
“He’s going ahead with it,” the man said. “The clock is ticking. Get the team ready.” He listened for a moment and then shook his head.
“No, don’t say ‘coup.’ Say ‘upgrade.’
To Be Continued…