Are These the Darkest Days in White House History?
Since the end of February 2018, White House aides have described an air of anxiety and volatility at the White House — even more so than usual —with a commander in chief who is uncontrollable. According to aides, these are the darkest days the White House has seen in the last six months, and they are worried that Trump’s administration is plunging into complete chaos.
1. Trump is angry
According to The Washington Post, aides report that Donald Trump is angry — and more isolated than ever. Every time he sees a TV screaming about yet another White House scandal, he fumes. In addition, he tells friends he doesn’t know who he can trust, and he holds onto — and revives — old grudges.
Next: No hope
2. Hope Hicks resigned
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks — Trump’s closest West Wing confidante — resigned at the end of February — one day after she testified before the House intelligence committee for nine hours as part of the Russia investigation. Coupled with last fall’s departure of longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller, Trump will have few solid loyalists left.
Hick’s absence will leave a huge hole in the White House staff, and Trump’s allies are concerned about it, according to The Washington Post. So concerned, in fact, that they’ve been urging one another to stay in touch with the president to lift his spirits.
Next: Bad decisions?
3. Trump lays down the law
Trump’s bad moods have been a constant in this unorthodox presidency — and he seems to be driven by emotion, impulse and ego, according to The Washington Post. At the end of February Trump’s moods manifested themselves. He changed positions on gun control. He also started a trade war that affected financial markets — and Republican leaders, along with many in his own administration, opposed the move. In addition, the end of February marked the start of his feud with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Next: A ray of sun
4. Trump isn’t all doom and gloom
Some of Trump’s advisers say he’s not all doom and gloom, according to The Washington Post. The news coverage of him in the gun debate pleased Trump, and there have actually been some lighthearted moments at the White House. For example, he recently got together with his staff to prepare a comedy routine he presented at the February Gridiron, a Saturday night dinner with Washington officials and journalists
On the recent White House departures, Trump joked: “So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating ’cause you want new thought. So, I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Now the question everyone keeps asking is, ‘Who is going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?’”
Next: Increasing concern
5. Trump’s friends are getting more worried by the day
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s friends are more worried about his well being than ever before. They feel he’s negatively affected by his obsession with cable commentary and all of his perceived slights.
Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general, said the nation — and Congress in particular — should be alarmed. I think the president is starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well,” McCaffrey said. “Trump’s judgment is fundamentally flawed, and the more pressure put on him and the more isolated he becomes, I think, his ability to do harm is going to increase.”
Next: Two key events
6. Trump has a lot on his plate
Donald Trump is dealing with an awful lot of issues, according to The Washington Post, which might be the reason for his recent moodiness. For example, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s 2016 election interference — and Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice — has really heated up. And Jared Kushner, a White House senior advise and Trump’s son-in-law, lost access to America’s top secrets in February due to increased public scrutiny of his foreign contacts and of his blending business with government work.
Next: An unsure Trump?
7. Trump is asking for advice, but will he follow it?
Donald Trump has been asking those who are close to him if they think his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — or his company, Kushner Companies — has done anything wrong, according to The Washington Post. And according to two Trump advisers, Trump is telling his aides that he will not be ensnared in the Russia investigation, even though others around him will be. Trump maintains that the nation will finally realize that the Democrats — as opposed to his campaign — conspired with the Russians.
Next: Losing control
8. This is when Trump is at his worst
Because the Russia investigation has generated so many negative headlines — and because headlines matter to the president — Trump has been raging, according to The Washington Post. He’s most isolated during the evenings and early mornings, according to his advisers, which is the prime time for him to lose his cool.
Next: Seething about Sessions
9. Trump calls Sessions disloyal
When cable news showed a photo of Attorney General Jeff Sessions having dinner with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and another Justice Department prosecutor on Feb. 28, 2018, Trump freaked, according to The Washington Post. Rosenstein oversees the Russia investigation, and the news report described the meeting as an act of solidarity following Trump’s attack on Sessions in a tweet that morning. Trump was still raging about the photo of Sessions the next morning, and he told friends and allies he viewed it an intentional show of disloyalty.
Next: A new beef with Sessions
10. Trump is still seething over Sessions
According to The Washington Post, Trump has been livid with Sessions for a long time because he recused himself from oversight of the Russia probe. According to aides, Trump calls him “Mr. Magoo,” a bumbling, elderly cartoon character created in 1949. But at the beginning of March, the president was freshly irate that Sessions asked the Justice Department’s inspector general — instead of criminal prosecutors — to investigate alleged violations the FBI committed in obtaining surveillance warrants.
Next: Another freak-out
11. Trump turns his attention to Alec Baldwin
Recently, according to The Washington Post, Trump targeted his anger at actor Alec Baldwin, who often does Trump impersonations. Just after Fox News Channel aired a segment about Baldwin saying he was tired of impersonating Trump on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Trump took to Twitter.
“Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch,” tweeted Trump. Trump added that Baldwin’s impersonation of him wasn’t as good as Darrell Hammond’s, another Saturday Night Live regular. “Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent!” Trump tweeted
Next: This is scary.
12. Peter Wehner speaks out
Peter Wehner, a veteran of the three previous Republican administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is concerned about Trump, according to The Washington Post. “Trump’s fundamentally distorted personality — which at its core is chaotic, volatile and transgressive — when combined with the powers of the presidency had to end poorly,” he said. “What we’re now seeing is the radiating effects of that, and it’s enveloped him, his White House, his family and his friends.”
Next: A chaotic R&R trip
13. Trump can’t relax
When Trump left on Friday, March 2, 2018, for his private refuge private Mar-a-Lago Club in South Florida recently, he had dinner some old friends’ house — former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his wife, Judith. Blackstone Group chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman and others joined the party, where Trump tried to convince everyone that his trade tariffs were more popular than they thought.
That Saturday, Trump played at the Trump International Golf Course, where he tweeted “Happy National Anthem Day!” His happy mood didn’t last long, however, because just after noon he tweeted that the mainstream media has “gone CRAZY!”
Next: Not taking advice
14. Trump doesn’t trust his staff?
According to The Washington Post, Trump’s staff is having its patience tested — a lot. Many feel Trump isn’t listening to their advice. Does he not trust the people he chose? According to his advisers, White House counsel Donald McGahn and national economic council director Gary Cohn are particularly frustrated that Trump isn’t listening to them.
Next: Chief of staff creates chaos
15. John F. Kelly adds to atmosphere
The media criticized White House chief of staff John F. Kelly for the way he handled the domestic-abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter, further adding to the chaos in the White House. But Kelly seems to be on firmer footing now, according to The Washington Post. When he recently gave a statement regarding his move from the role of homeland security secretary to the West Wing, Kelly joked, “God punished me.”
But Kelly didn’t let the Porter snafu go — he tried to explain the timeline of Porter’s dismissal with a group of reporters yet again, which surprised and some White House staffers because they thought the issue was buried. “Morale is the worst it’s ever been,” said a Republican strategist with access to the White House staff. “Nobody knows what to expect.
Next: Trump’s big surprise
16. Trump’s staffers didn’t know about the new tariffs
Trump’s staffers had no idea he made the decision to levy steep new tariffs on aluminum and steel — and that he would gleefully tout a possible trade war — which caused quite of bit of upset, particularly among his top trade advisers, according to The Washington Post.
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and Trump’s chief economic adviser, announced he was going to continue stalling Trump on tariffs, and called the tariffs “obviously stupid,” according to another staffer. Cohn resigned on March 6, 2018, after Trump moved to enact the tariffs against his advice. “You can’t do this, you can’t do that,” said a senior administration official. “The more you tell him that, the more he is going to do what he wants to do.”
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