you can’t have it both ways. You can argue that all of the chaos is part of Trump’s strategy. But you can’t cherry-pick the chaos you like and claim the media is making up the rest.
.. I’ve talked to people in the White House. I’ve talked to congressmen and senators off the record. And I’ve talked to far more people who’ve talked to such people. They all say that things behind the scenes in Trump World are nuttier than Mr. Peanut’s stool sample.
.. Just this week, the president’s body man was ejected from the White House on a freezing cold day, and he wasn’t even allowed to get his coat (presumably, he knows stuff — because he was instantly hired by the Trump reelection campaign).
Trump fired his secretary of State over Twitter.
Roll back the clock another week or two, and you have the sudden resignation of Hope Hicks and the revelation that Rob Porter couldn’t get a security clearance because of credible allegations that he was an abusive husband.
I can’t remember the last time Trump humiliated his attorney general, but it feels like we’re due. There was also some stuff about executing drug dealers and calling Chuck Todd a son of a b****. Oh, and there was that stuff about how trade wars are good.
.. Trump loves controversy but hates confrontation. That’s why he wants to force Sessions to quit
- That’s why he fired James Comey while the FBI director was giving a speech in California, and it’s why he wanted to
- fire Rex Tillerson while the secretary of State was in Africa.
- .. when Democrats are in the room, Trump tells them he’d go for comprehensive immigration reform and preens about how he’d like to “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
.. Recently, people close to Mr. Trump say that he has begun to feel more confident that he understands the job of president. He is relying more on his own instincts, putting a premium on his personal chemistry with people and their willingness to acknowledge that his positions are ultimately administration policy, rather than on their résumé or qualifications for the job.
My friend and chicken-wing consultant Steve Hayes argues that Pompeo is in fact “the real Trump whisperer.” He reports:
“I’ve seen a dozen times when Pompeo has talked the president out of one of his crazy ideas,” says a senior administration official involved in the national security debates.
Let that sink in. It’s not quite as reassuring as it sounds. If Haberman is right, then even if Pompeo had success in the past constraining Trump, he might not be able to going forward, given how Trump is more inclined to let his freak flag fly.
.. One of the great divides on the right these days is over the question of whether the policy wins of the Trump administration occurred because of Trump or despite him.
With the possible exception of Ted Cruz, I don’t think any other Republican would have
- moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem,
- opened ANWR to drilling, or
- pulled out of the Paris climate accords and
- TPP (though I think the TPP move was a mistake).
Most of Trump’s policy successes, however, have been accomplished thanks to party and movement regulars in the administration and in Congress
- Judicial appointments have been outsourced to the Federalist Society and Mitch McConnell, thank God.
- Tax reform was Paul Ryan’s baby.
I am generally baffled when people say, “He’s gotten so much accomplished.” From where I sit, so much has been accomplished despite him.
He also gets “credit” for the fire sale of conservative credibility on countless conservative positions and arguments
.. The GOP’s tax-cut message did not have the salience Republicans hoped
.. Trump is increasingly toxic in normally Republican-friendly suburbs. His rallies may energize the GOP base — but they energize Democrats more.
.. Many of his preferred policies and most of his antics divide Republicans, while they unite Democrats.
.. Let’s also assume Mueller doesn’t find evidence of “collusion” that directly implicates Trump but that he does find enough to land Jared, Don Jr., and Michael Cohen in the dock. Paul Manafort is already looking at spending more than two centuries in jail.
What happens when
- Democrats get subpoena power? What happens when
- they start drafting articles of impeachment? What happens if
- Mueller reveals that Trump isn’t really as rich as he claims and that
- his business is mostly a Potemkin village of money-laundering condo sales? What happens
- if Stormy Daniels — or the retinue of super-classy ladies reportedly looking to follow her lead — releases embarrassing pictures of the president?
How do you think unconstrained Hulk Trump reacts? Heck, how do you think the beleaguered skeleton crew at the White House behaves? Everyone is gonna lawyer up
Normal administrations are crippled by zealous investigatory committees; is it so crazy to think that Donald Trump might not show restraint?
Might he be tempted to give the Democrats the store to hold off investigations, impeachment, whatever? Everyone defends the Jerry Falwell Jr. caucus on the grounds that they have a “transactional” relationship with Trump. Well, what if other transactional opportunities take precedence?
.. in the next couple of years, a tsunami of tell-all books and more-in-sorrow-than-anger reputation-rehabilitating memoirs will probably come out.
.. “character is destiny.” And I’ve never been more confident that that destiny is coming, and it won’t be pretty.
He cited as an example a request that Mr. McConnell once made of Mr. Trump to stop talking about “draining the swamp.”
.. Mr. Bannon predicted deep division within the Republican Party over Mr. Trump’s recent move to end the program that provided temporary relief from deportation for hundreds of thousands of young people in the United States illegally. The president set a March end date for the program and asked Congress to come up with a solution in the meantime, a task that Mr. Bannon said could split Republicans and cost them their House majority in the 2018 midterm elections.
“If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party,” he said.
.. “The media image, I think, is pretty accurate,” he said. “I’m a street fighter. That’s what I am.”
.. Mr. Bannon also condemned top officials in the George W. Bush administration, calling them “idiots” friendly to what he termed China’s anti-American economic agenda. He singled out Condoleezza Rice and Colin L. Powell, former secretaries of state, and Brent Scowcroft, an adviser to Mr. Bush and his father, as those most worthy of his scorn, criticizing them for China’s 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization.
“They’ve gotten us in this situation, and they question a good man like Donald Trump,” he said. “I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt.”
.. Mr. Bannon also attacked Gary D. Cohn, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, who publicly criticized the president’s comments about Charlottesville. “If you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign,” Mr. Bannon said. “You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign.”