Other than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the lone remaining enforcer is Kelly. But his power as chief of staff has been diminished. Officials said the days of Kelly hovering in the Oval Office morning to night and screening the president’s calls are over. Trump is largely circumventing Kelly’s strict protocols.
The president recently reached out to some people Kelly had sought to excommunicate, calling former communications director Anthony Scaramucci to banter about politics and inviting Lewandowski and Bossie to dinner in the residence.
“He’s rotating back to the people who actually like him and is more willing to take advice from those people,” Scaramucci said. “They’re more honest with him, and he’s more comfortable with them.”
Allies said Trump is reverting to the way he led the Trump Organization from his 26th-floor office suite at Trump Tower in Manhattan. There, staffers were functionaries or lawyers, and many of his advisers were outside the company — rival business leaders, media figures and bankers. Back then, Trump controlled his orbit himself from behind his cluttered desk, relying on assistant Rhona Graff to field calls.
.. Ascendant in the West Wing are advisers who play to Trump’s gut: Kudlow on tax cuts and deregulation, Bolton on a muscular approach to foreign affairs, Peter Navarro on protectionist trade policies, Stephen Miller on crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and Kellyanne Conway on an open press strategy and tangling with reporters.
.. Like Conway, Bolton and Kudlow are seasoned cable news commentators who share Trump’s hard-charging instincts and have no illusions about his governing style. Officials said they are expected to cater to the president’s wishes and seek to avoid the internal knife fights that have befallen many a Trump aide.
.. “Gary was really good, but I don’t know if Gary ever embraced the Trump economic ideas. He was more of a traditional Democrat or moderate Republican. Kudlow is a real cheerleader for the tax cuts in a way Gary never was, although he helped get them passed.”
.. Trump has been frustrated by news stories of White House tumult and has ordered aides to contest the notion that there is chaos.
.. “The top story, number one, is Stormy Daniels,” King said he told Trump. “I told him it’s utterly ridiculous. I just came back from Hamburg, Germany, and they were just laughing at us.”
characteristics that got him to the White House in the first place: a reliance on gut and guile, disregard for the experts and a flair for the dramatic. Expect more of the same, perhaps much more.
.. He is surrounding himself with advisers more likely to reinforce his own instincts rather than those who would attempt to nudge him gently in directions he prefers not to go. He will still bend at times but will feel freer to trust himself more than others.
.. For all the talk of Trump as a politician with no fixed ideology and no coherent views on issues, the one constant has been his insistence that the United States has been snookered on one trade deal after another and his resolve to take action.
.. As telling, however, was the decision by Theodore B. Olson, a former solicitor general, not to join the president’s defense team.
.. The coming phase of Trump’s presidency will last through the November midterm elections. Between now and then, Congress will take no significant action, or so go the predictions.
.. Summer Zervos, a contestant on “The Apprentice” who accuses Trump of sexual misconduct. All are suing for the right to tell their stories.
.. There is no New Trump emerging here as this next phase begins. If anything, it is the reemergence of the old Trump, the pre-presidential Trump, who plays by his own rules and tries to rewrite the old ones he doesn’t like.
.. more important he was constrained institutionally, in roughly the ways that Republican politicians had promised that he would be — surrounded by a conventional Republican cabinet and (after a while) a conventional White House that essentially governed for him, letting him play the authoritarian on Twitter while the business of the presidency was conducted elsewhere.
.. Donald Trump: a septuagenarian cable-TV addict ill-suited for the responsibilities of his office but still fully capable of attempting to exercise its powers. Which meant that the containment game had to last, not weeks or months, but three more long years to work.
.. And it may not last that long. From his exciting new steel tariffs to his promised summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, Trump has been acting lately like a man less inclined to listen to his handlers — and now those handlers have begun to disappear.
.. it seems less like something happening to Trump and more like chaos orchestrated from the Oval Office: “The narrative of Trump unglued is not totally wrong but misses the reason why — he was terrified of the job the first six months, and now feels like he has a command of it. So now he is basically saying, ‘I’ve got this, I can make the changes I want.’”
.. What would Trump becoming a real president mean in practice? In terms of personnel, it might mean that instead of easing out the hacks and cranks and TV personalities, as his staff managed to do during the year of constraint, Trump will begin to usher out his more qualified personnel and replace them with, well, TV personalities — Cohn with Larry Kudlow, perhaps, or H. R. McMaster with John Bolton.
.. But it also promises to further multiply the number of important vacancies within the government
.. will encourage Trump to take more counsel from the shadow Trumpland of his campaign, where his more misfit-toy advisers tend to congregate.
.. the main Trumpian qualities that have been constrained to date are his impulsiveness and anger and impatience with rules and norms and limits.
.. if he actually begins to exercise the full powers of his office, it’s not so much that the odds of any particular policy course go up as that it becomes more likely that we get more extreme and destabilizing outcomes, somewhere.
That could mean war with North Korea, or it could mean some sort of unexpected and possibly disastrous treaty with Kim Jong-un’s regime; both become more likely the more Trump alone takes responsibility for our peninsular diplomacy.
.. It could mean the real détente with Russia that Trump’s harshest critics think he’s obliged by some corrupt bargain to seek out … or it could mean the kind of military conflict with Moscow that we sometimes seem to be stumbling toward in Ukraine and Syria.
.. different coterie of advisers find new ways to contain and soothe their boss.
.. Maybe Mike Pompeo .. and some combination of TV personalities can do better at managing the president in the long run than the Cohns and Tillersons and McMasters, because Trump will feel that he picked them all by himself.
.. Maybe this president will spend his administration going through periodic frenzies of “I’m in charge” activity, before subsiding back into the virtual presidency of his Twitter feed and Fox injections.
.. if the first year of Trump’s presidency vindicated Republicans who argued that he could be contained, it didn’t tell us anything definitive about whether he will be.
.. a week like this one, with a president chafing against his bonds and snapping some of them, is how a descent from farce to tragedy might begin.