WASHINGTON — Even by the whiplash standards of a Trump news cycle, the president said some startling things in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News on Monday night.
To name a few: A plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” wearing black uniforms had come to Washington last week to disrupt the Republican National Convention. The president’s opponent in the 2020 campaign, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was being controlled by “people that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.” Police officers like the one in Kenosha, Wis., who shot an unarmed Black man seven times last week — leaving him paralyzed from the waist down — have a hard time with pressure and so “they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot.”
It has become cursory when reporting on President Trump to point out the obvious. These would all be rather astonishing claims coming from any other president or major candidate for the office.
But they were hardly astonishing enough for any leading House or Senate Republicans to have anything to say about it. None cared to comment, at least not the dozen or so The New York Times tried to reach on Tuesday.
This is also a familiar pattern: Mr. Trump saying something incendiary while his fellow Republicans say nothing.
“If the leader comments, I’ll be sure to pass it along,” said Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. As of late Tuesday afternoon, there was nothing to pass along.
Granted, neither the House nor Senate is in session this week, and most members are back in their districts. This spared them the indignity of having to scurry away down the halls of the Capitol, escaping into fake phone calls or protestations that they were “late for lunch,” had “missed” the president’s statement, had not “seen the tweet,” did not watch the interview or whatever.
By the end of the day, there was nothing forthcoming from other elected Republicans, from anywhere — no criticism, condemnation or even acknowledgment that the president had said anything “problematic.” Nothing about “planes filled with looters,” nothing about the racial dog whistles embedded in some of Mr. Trump’s other statements to Ms. Ingraham about how low-income housing destroys American suburbs, bringing in “a lot of other problems, including crime.”
Only one Republican outlier was willing to respond to the president: Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. This also fits a familiar pattern of the former Republican standard-bearer playing the unlikely role of maverick.
“The comments and tweets over the past few days,” Mr. Romney said, “including a retweet of a 2019 video clearly intended to further inflame racial tensions, are simply jaw-dropping.”
By Tuesday morning, the president clarified to reporters that the “plane filled with looters” to which he had referred also included “the anarchists, the rioters, people that were obviously looking for trouble.”
He attributed this menace to “a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever.” A short time later, Mr. Trump had moved on. “It never ends!” he tweeted. “Now they are trying to say that your favorite President, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes.”
He declared this to be “FAKE NEWS,” and the White House physician released a statement denying that the president had suffered any such stroke.
Mr. Trump appeared to be reacting to a new book by Michael S. Schmidt, a New York Times reporter, who writes in “Donald Trump v. the United States” that on the day the president made a trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland last year, Vice President Mike Pence was on standby to take over temporarily if Mr. Trump had to undergo a procedure requiring anesthesia.
Joe Lockhart, a former White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, then posed a question on Twitter: “Did @realDonaldTrump have a stroke which he is hiding from the American public?” he wrote.
Mr. Trump then had his doctor release a statement backing up his tweet.
It never ends.