Reports of Donald Trump lashing out in a rage are troubling. This adds weight to concerns about a volatile presidency with a high risk of some quite bad turning to custard.
“This account of the administration’s tumultuous recent days is based on interviews with 17 top White House officials, members of Congress and friends of the president, many of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly.”
Trump was mad — steaming, raging mad.
Trump’s young presidency has existed in a perpetual state of chaos. The issue of Russia has distracted from what was meant to be his most triumphant moment: his address last Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. And now his latest unfounded accusation — that Barack Obama tapped Trump’s phones during last fall’s campaign — had been denied by the former president and doubted by both allies and fellow Republicans.
When Trump ran into Christopher Ruddy on the golf course and later at dinner Saturday, he vented to his friend. “This will be investigated,” Ruddy recalled Trump telling him. “It will all come out. I will be proven right.”
“He was pissed,” said Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative media company. “I haven’t seen him this angry.”
At the center of the turmoil is an impatient president increasingly frustrated by his administration’s inability to erase the impression that his campaign was engaged with Russia, to stem leaks about both national security matters and internal discord and to implement any signature achievements.
A deep state of anger over ‘deep state’:
Trump, meanwhile, has been feeling besieged, believing that his presidency is being tormented in ways known and unknown by a group of Obama-aligned critics, federal bureaucrats and intelligence figures — not to mention the media, which he has called “the enemy of the American people.”
That angst over what many in the White House call the “deep state” is fomenting daily, fueled by rumors and tidbits picked up by Trump allies within the intelligence community and by unconfirmed allegations that have been made by right-wing commentators. The “deep state” is a phrase popular on the right for describing entrenched networks hostile to Trump.
So Trump is raging against real and imagined hostility – with much of the hostility trumped up to give him an enemy to appear to fight against.
The president has been seething as he watches round-the-clock cable news coverage.
Stories from Breitbart News, the incendiary conservative website, have been circulated at the White House’s highest levels in recent days, including one story where talk-radio host Mark Levin accused the Obama administration of mounting a “silent coup,” according to several officials.
Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist who once ran Breitbart, has spoken with Trump at length about his view that the “deep state” is a direct threat to his presidency.
Is the paranoia spread from Bannon or spread by Bannon?
The mood at the White House on Tuesday night was different altogether — jubilant. Trump returned from the Capitol shortly before midnight to find his staff assembled in the residence cheering him. Finally, they all thought, they had seized control.
The merriment came to a sudden end on Wednesday night, when The Washington Post first reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador despite having said under oath at his Senate confirmation hearing that he had no contact with the Russians.
Inside the West Wing, Trump’s top aides were furious with the defenses of Sessions offered by the Justice Department’s public affairs division and felt blindsided that Sessions’s aides had not consulted the White House earlier in the process, according to one senior White House official.
The next morning, Trump exploded, according to White House officials.
The president would trumpet his plan to grow military spending aboard the Navy’s sophisticated new aircraft carrier. But as Trump, sporting a bomber jacket and Navy cap, rallied sailors and shipbuilders, his message was overshadowed by Sessions.
Back at the White House on Friday morning, Trump summoned his senior aides into the Oval Office, where he simmered with rage, according to several White House officials.
Trouble for Trump continued to spiral over the weekend. Early Saturday, he surprised his staff by firing off four tweets accusing Obama of a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap his Trump Tower phones in the run-up to last fall’s election. Trump cited no evidence, and Obama’s spokesman denied any such wiretap was ordered.
A bad reaction in a bad mood. An ominous sign – Obama isn’t in command of armed forces any more but it’s a matter of time before someone who does will be the target of Trump’s ire.
Trump was brighter Sunday morning as he read several newspapers, pleased that his allegations against Obama were the dominant story, the official said.
But he found reason to be mad again: Few Republicans were defending him on the Sunday political talk shows.
Sounds almost like manic depressive phases.