As multiple investigations of his Russian influence scandal continue to widen and deepen, the star of ‘Presidential Apprentice’ is displaying all the characteristics of a dictator in free-fall.
According to Axios.com, Donald Trump is once again weighing major changes to his White House staff as friends outside the administration tell him to “go big.”
“At the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, most of whom he consults after dark, President Trump is considering a ‘huge reboot’ that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer,” writes Mike Allen.
An “irritated…frustrated, angry” president reportedly blames everyone else for his spectacular PR disasters and the slow pace of legislation. “He’s never going to say he did a bad job,” an anonymous senior aide says.
“The sources say Trump feels ill-served by not just his staff but also by several of his Cabinet officials,” Allen reports. “Trump has two complaints about Cabinet members: Either they’re tooting their own horns too much, or they’re insufficiently effusive in praising him as a brilliant diplomat, etc.”
Jealous of the spotlight, Trump has always diminished anyone who stood out, demanding their flattery in order to maintain his alpha status. But the pressures of the Oval Office, and the tightening noose of scandal, are heightening such problematic behaviors.
The Axios report correlates with news from The New York Times, reported on Friday that Trump wants to stop the flood of leaks that have embarrassed his administration by shaking up his staff.
Although he personally pulled the rug out from under his own communications team last week by admitting that he wanted to fire FBI Director James Comey in order to stifle investigations into his alleged collusion with the Kremlin, Trump has reacted to the terrible publicity by blaming the very people that he undercut.
“There is nothing more discouraging or embarrassing for a spokesman than to have your boss contradict you. In political communications, you’re only as good as your credibility,” Republican strategist Alex Conant told the Times.
Trump surrogates “wind up looking like a liar or a fool, neither of which is particularly attractive,” said Democratic consultant David Axelrod.
NBC’s Saturday Night Live poked fun at rumors of a pending dismissal by having Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump give Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer ‘the kiss of death‘ — exactly the kind of satire that reportedly makes Trump most furious.
It’s always hard to tell how serious this president is about firing Spicer, or Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Michael Dubke, or anyone else whose name has come up in these stories whenever Donald Trump is having a bad week.
On one hand, Trump’s reality game show style of management always instills some measure of fear and uncertainty in his subordinates. It’s how he keeps them on their toes.
On the other hand, this is all a bit familiar: Adolf Hitler fired Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler during his final hours in the Führerbunker out of sheer petulance and a childish need to cast the blame for his bad decisions on other people.
As the Russian influence scandal(s) have become an all-consuming conflagration, Donald Trump appears to be descending into a real estate billionaire’s version of the gloom and fitful madness that accompanied the most famous downfall in world history. His bunker is perhaps gaudier, but he is at least as obsessed by a sense of personal betrayal — and incapable of hearing bad news.
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