Over the Christmas weekend, President Donald Trump was the only man with the power to forestall a government shutdown on Tuesday and approve a $900 billion stimulus bill to restore jobless benefits to millions of laid-off Americans and prevent further economic calamity. 

On Sunday, Trump reluctantly signed the COVID relief and government funding bills his own administration helped negotiate and that his own aides claimed he’d approved days ago. 

Since the bills were not signed until Sunday, he was too late to prevent unemployment aid from lapsing. The delay also pushed the government within 30 hours of shutting down.

Throughout the weekend, Trump mainly focused mostly on the dead-end efforts to challenge his election loss rather signing the bills that would ease the nation’s hardships.

Trump remained out of public view over the weekend in Florida, going back and forth to his namesake golf course without revealing his intentions. Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were also away for the holidays.

Trump’s statement afterward appeared face-saving, insisting that one of his trade-offs for signing the bill was lawmakers agreeing to “focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election.”

Trump has been more unpredictable now than at any point in his presidency, and aides on Sunday said even as they pressed Trump to approve the relief measure, they couldn’t say for certain if he would proceed with the signing. 

Trump is in the final days of his tenure as president. He is due to remain in Florida for several more days, returning to Washington early in the new year to resume his efforts at overturning the election, involving the upcoming January 6 Electoral College ratification. 

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