President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.
.. There are no longer moral arbiters in Congress like Howard Baker and Sam Ervin to lead a resignation or impeachment process. There is no longer a single media establishment that shapes how the country sees the president. This is no longer a country in which everybody experiences the same reality.
.. We’re going to have an administration that has morally and politically collapsed, without actually going away.
.. Trump doesn’t mesh with that machinery. He is personality-based while it is rule-based.
.. The intelligence community has only just begun to undermine this president.
.. Usually when administrations stumble, they fire a few people and bring in the grown-ups — the James Baker or the David Gergen types. But Trump is anti-grown-up, so it’s hard to imagine Chief of Staff Haley Barbour. Instead, the circle of trust seems to be shrinking to his daughter, her husband and Stephen Bannon.
.. It’s interesting how many of Bannon’s rivals have woken up with knives in their backs. Michael Flynn is gone. Reince Priebus has been unmanned by a thousand White House leaks. Rex Tillerson had the potential to be an effective secretary of state, but Bannon neutered him last week by denying him the ability to even select his own deputy.
.. With each passing day, Trump talks more like Bannon without the background reading.
.. intelligence agencies are drafting memos with advice on how to play Donald Trump.
.. The key currency is not power, it’s flattery.
.. Give the boy a lollipop and he won’t notice if you steal his lunch. The Japanese gave Trump a new jobs announcement he could take to the Midwest, and in return they got presidential attention and coddling that other governments would have died for.
.. If you want to roll the Trump administration, you’ve got to get in line. The Israelis got a possible one-state solution. The Chinese got Trump to flip-flop on the “One China” policy. The Europeans got him to do a 180 on undoing the Iran nuclear deal.
.. We’re about to enter a moment in which U.S. economic and military might is strong but U.S. political might is weak.
.. The human imagination is vast, but it is not nearly vast enough to encompass the infinitely multitudinous ways Donald Trump can find to get himself disgraced.
Reince Priebus says that one of his most important tasks as Donald Trump’s chief of staff will be to establish “some level of order within the White House.”
That, of course, has been the central mission of everyone who has held this post in the past, but it is certain to be a particularly daunting challenge with a president who regards chaos as a management tool.
.. the 44-year-old Priebus will be at the center of an experiment to determine whether Trump’s singular style of leadership — honed in his family business, displayed on reality television, and used with devastating effect in a presidential campaign that defied every expectation — will transform Washington as Trump promised or prove ineffective when applied to the more complex work of presiding over the massive federal government.
.. “The president has to make it clear that Reince is first among equals,” said Ken Duberstein, who served as chief of staff under Ronald Reagan. “You’ve got to empower somebody on the staff.”
.. “The chief of staff, I think, has the responsibility to be all-knowing — to decide what the president should know, what he needs to know, what he doesn’t need to know,”
.. But Trump is also known for being swayed by the last person he has talked to, especially if the advice is accompanied by flattery.
.. “Reince has this kind of ‘aw, shucks’ demeanor, but he’s pretty tough,” said former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie.
.. in the wake of The Washington Post’s Oct. 8 revelation of a 2005 tape in which Trump was heard making lewd comments about women and boasting of groping them. The distraught party chairman reportedly urged the GOP nominee to drop out of the race, or face losing it in a landslide.
.. Early on, Priebus used some of those sessions to urge Trump to tamp down his incendiary and divisive rhetoric. That turned out to be futile.
.. it also turned out to be what Priebus called “a perfect marriage.”
.. “It just turns out that the president-elect’s message was ringing extremely true to the electorate and we had the data and the infrastructure to back it up.”
.. One of this most important projects was bringing aboard key party leaders in Priebus’s home state of Wisconsin, which had gone for Sen. Ted Cruz
.. Priebus “was the ultimate diplomat,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose own 2016 presidential hopes had fallen early victim to Trump. “Paul’s support was critical to sending a message, not just to House members, but just overall Republican voters. Reince was just tenacious.”
.. Priebus has more often than not gotten his way on key administration hires.
.. RNC communications director and Priebus confidant Sean Spicer as press secretary. Katie Walsh, currently Priebus’s chief of staff at the RNC, is considered likely to become a deputy White House chief of staff.
.. His first name is short for Reinhold.
.. took his future wife, Sally, to a party fundraiser on their first date.
.. He became RNC chairman in 2011 at a desperate time for the party, which was $24 million in debt. It had a little more than $350,000 cash on hand and a $400,000 payroll due six days later — a situation so dire that, early on, he had to help float it by maxing out two personal credit cards to pay his travel expenses.
.. When you don’t have the White House and you don’t have the Congress, dialing for money is just hard as hell, and he just kept doing it, and he didn’t have anybody helping him,” said lobbyist Richard Hohlt. “He loved the job.”
.. By the end of 2012, the RNC has $3.3 million in the bank and no debt.
.. Priebus shares one thing with the president-elect: little apparent need for sleep. Walker marveled at how he has texted Priebus at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, gotten an immediate response, and then awakened to a follow-up sent at dawn.
That means that when the future president is firing off tweets in the wee hours, as is his wont, his chief of staff will probably be up and seeing them.
.. Among his queries: How do you involve Cabinet officials, and make sure they are pursuing the president’s agenda, rather than their own?
.. How do you control who gets the president’s ear?
What is paramount, said former chief of staff Card, is that no one be allowed to make end runs around Priebus.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.
On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.