Trump Shows Us the Way

Donald Trump slipped into the Oval Office through a wormhole of confusion about the American identity.

.. We were moving from a white-majority, male-dominated country and manufacturing base to a multicultural, multilateral, globalized, P.C., new energy, new technology world, without taking account of the confusion and anger of older Americans who felt like strangers in a strange land.

.. And we certainly don’t want men like Rob Porter who have punched, kicked, choked and terrorized their wives to be in the president’s inner circle, helping decide which policies, including those that affect women, get emphasized.

.. We don’t want the White House chief of staff to be the sort of person who shields and defends abusers — and then dissembles about it — simply because the abuser is a rare competent staffer. Or a man who labels Dreamers “too lazy to get off their asses” simply because they didn’t apply for legal protections in time.

.. John Kelly served as a character witness not only for Porter, after he didn’t receive security clearance because F.B.I. agents had heard the harrowing tales from his battered ex-wives. Kelly also testified as a character witness for Gen. Robert E. Lee and a former Marine who pleaded guilty to sending inappropriate sexual messages to female subordinates; who drove drunk to an arraignment; and who got charged in Virginia with sex crimes against children.

.. As a more lucid Trump tweeted in 2012 about Rihanna getting back together with Chris Brown, “A beater is always a beater.”

.. We don’t want a president who bends over backward to give the benefit of the doubt to neo-Nazis, wife beaters, pedophiles and sexual predators — or who is a sexual predator himself.

.. We don’t want a president who flips the ordinary equation, out of some puerile sense of grievance, to honor Russia and dishonor the F.B.I.

.. We don’t want a president who is too shallow to read his daily intelligence report and too obsessed with the deep state to deal fairly with our intelligence agencies.

.. We don’t want a president who suggests that Democrats who don’t clap for him are treasonous and who seems more enthralled by authoritarian ways than democratic ones.

.. who loves generals but trashes Gold Star parents

.. who wants the sort of chesty military parade that we mock Kim Jong-un for, a phallic demonstration of overcompensation that would only put more potholes in the D.C. boulevards.

.. one who could be so easily trapped in lies that he can’t even be allowed to talk to an investigator.

.. And, finally, we surely don’t want a president who seeks advice on foreign affairs from Henry Kissinger. Ever. Again.

Is Trump All Talk on North Korea? The Uncertainty Sends a Shiver

“Knowing each of them personally, I am certain they are counseling operational caution, measured public commentary and building a coalition approach to dealing with Kim Jong-un,” Mr. Stavridis, a retired admiral, said in an email. “But controlling President Trump seems incredibly difficult. Let’s hope they are not engaged in mission impossible, because the stakes are so high.”

Christopher R. Hill, a former ambassador to South Korea who served Republican and Democratic presidents, argued that the comments could badly undercut Mr. Trump’s ability to find a peaceful solution to the dispute, playing into Mr. Kim’s characterization of the United States as an evil nation bent on North Korea’s destruction and relieving pressure on the Chinese to do more to curb Pyongyang.

“The comments give the world the sense that he is increasingly unhinged and unreliable,” said Mr. Hill, the dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

.. Yet current and former senior officials said it was clear that Mr. Trump would continue his brinkmanship, particularly his belligerent tweets, no matter what his advisers do or say. One former administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy workings, said nobody, including Mr. Kelly, could control the president’s social media utterances, despite what his military advisers thought about them.

The tweets most likely have forced Mr. Mattis and Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other national security officials, to spend a significant amount of time on the phone reassuring counterparts about Mr. Trump’s intentions.

Some of Mr. Trump’s allies argue that his behavior is strategic, a way of telegraphing to North Korea — and to its primary patron, China — that the United States is taking a tougher line under this administration. There may be wisdom, they argue, in spurring fear and confusion in the mind of a leader who frequently relies on both.

Sean Spicer Resigns as White House Press Secretary

Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary, reporting to Mr. Scaramucci. But Mr. Spicer rejected the offer, expressing his belief that

  • Mr. Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House,

according to two people with direct knowledge of the exchange.

  • The president’s health care effort foundered in the Senate last week, and next week promises no respite, with his son
  • Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, due to testify before Congress on questions about their contacts with Russia.

His rapport with the president establishes a new power center in a building already bristling with rivalry.

The president has no intention of changing his behavior — he merely believes his communications staff needs to defend him better — and Mr. Scaramucci even suggested his role would be to unshackle an already unfettered president.

.. “We have accomplished so much, and we are being given credit for so little,” he said. “The good news is the people get it, even if the media doesn’t.”

.. He had hoped to last a year as press secretary. He quit after six months and a day.

.. He attained a notoriety unusual for a presidential spokesman, his combative style spawning a caricature on “Saturday Night Live.”

.. The eventual appointment of Mr. Scaramucci was backed by the president’s daughter

  • Ivanka,
  • Mr. Kushner and the commerce secretary,
  • Wilbur Ross

.. Mr. Kushner has grown increasingly critical of both Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, whom he regards as party establishment figures who operate out of self-interest.

.. Mr. Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, both strongly opposed the appointment of Mr. Scaramucci — in large part because he enjoys an easy banter and direct line to Mr. Trump, potentially threatening their positions

Mr. Trump, aggravated by their opposition, dressed the pair down in a testy Oval Office exchange around the time he decided to offer Mr. Scaramucci — known in Trump’s circle as “The Mooch” — the job.

.. one of the reasons he hired Mr. Scaramucci was to cut down on anonymous leaking — and took a swipe at his two advisers.

.. He asked them how the leaks were happening, according to a person familiar with the discussions, and called Mr. Spicer a “good guy” who leaks only when told to by Mr. Priebus.

.. He is said to be especially high on Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.

.. Mr. Priebus urged Mr. Trump to hire Mr. Spicer and another lieutenant, Katie Walsh, as deputy chief of staff. But Ms. Walsh left the White House after a short time when Mr. Kushner and other West Wing officials forced her out

.. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump had told people that Mr. Spicer was no longer “tough,” one of the harshest insults he can level

.. Mr. Spicer told friends he was tired of being blindsided by Mr. Trump, and weary of Mr. Trump’s constant criticism.

.. He instituted the highly contentious practice of holding off-camera briefings, less so to snub reporters than to avoid Mr. Trump’s critiques of his performance