WASHINGTON -- President Trump nears the end of his third year in office facing dismal job approval polls and the threat of impeachment by the Democratic House.
A top National Security Council official who listened in on Trump's conversation with the president of Ukraine, has testified that Trump wanted President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate one of his political rivals.
It was the first corroboration of a whistleblower who first learned about Trump's scheme to get a foreign country to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son -- a country invaded by Vladimir Putin's Russia, which seized its Crimean peninsula, and still threatens its survival.
Trump's latest job approval polls already weren't anything to write home about, but the combination of this latest scandal and weaknesses in the U.S. economy have made matters worse.
Real Clear Politics, the poll-monitoring website that computes the average of all U.S. political polls, reports that 53.6 percent of Americans now disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, compared to 42.8 percent who say they approve.
The latest mess Trump has gotten himself into couldn't have come at a worse time for the perpetually embattled president.
He had managed to squirm himself out of previous troubles by calling other charges of wrongdoing "a pack of lies." But this time, his accuser is a combat war hero, and a Purple Heart recipient with an impeccable career record, who saw wrongdoing and reported it immediately to his superiors.
"Trump and his allies on TV lashed out at Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who said his concerns about what he heard in Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky drove him to notify his superiors," the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
"Trump dismissed Vindman as a 'Never Trumper,' while some of his allies questioned the patriotism of the Army combat veteran because his family emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was 3," the Post said.
But other Republicans jumped to Vindman's defense. "We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who have put their lives on the line," said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. "It's shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation," the Post reported.
Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, received a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
But there were many other problematic issues swirling about Trump's presidency, including the economy and a government plunging ever more deeply into debt. Among them:
The Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the U.S. economy grew at a snail's-pace 1.9% annualized rate between July and September, far below the 3% rate the White House projected after enactment of the 2017 tax cuts.
Orders for U.S. capital goods fell "more than expected" in September, the latest sign that Trump's trade tariffs are hurting the economy.
U.S. exports dropped 3% from the previous year, the lowest in a year and a half, while capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, fell 0.5% last month.
Reuters also reported this week that the manufacturing sector, which comprises 11% of the U.S. economy has been weakened by Trump's trade war with our trading partners, undermining the U.S. economy.
Meantime, the administration has been ballooning the government's budget deficit like there's no tomorrow.
The U.S. Treasury reported last week that the budget deficit exploded by nearly $1 trillion this year, or by $984 billion to be precise.
Trump promised to eliminate the federal debt in eight years, but it turns out the deficit has grown by 50% under the Trump administration.
The government shelled out about $380 billion in interest payments on its debt last year, and it appears that this administration has made little progress to reduce the red ink in its yearly budget.
"This is the first time in our history that we are seeing a boom in the economy at the same time deficits are rapidly rising. It's alarming," said Marc Golden, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
When the debt hit $16.7 trillion under President Obama in 2013, Trump called it "the most profligate debt in our nation's history."
Trump's debt is now over $22 trillion and climbing.