It’s chaos. President Trump has become unhinged. And he better not fire Rod Rosenstein.
The Washington Post published several articles Thursday on its hard news pages and sourced to nearly two-dozen people who dealt dirt on the administration but were unwilling to have their names attached.
“This portrait of Trump in the current moment comes from interviews with 21 administration officials, outside advisers, lawmakers and confidants, many of them speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details and conversations.”
The number of anonymous sources in similar articles previously has ranged from 20 to 22.
“Trump chooses impulse over strategy as crises mount,” reads the headline on one prominent story, which then launched into a tale of how the president’s advisors have learned to work around his madness.
“In a White House known for chaos, the process of developing the U.S. response to the Syrian government’s alleged latest chemical attack was proceeding with uncharacteristic deliberation, including several national security briefings for President Trump.
“But then Wednesday morning, Trump upended it all with a tweet – warning Russia, the Syrian government’s backer, to ‘get ready’ because American missiles ‘will be coming, nice and new and smart!’
“White House advisers were surprised by the missive and found it ‘alarming’ and ‘distracting,’ in the words of one senior official. They quickly regrouped and, together with Pentagon brass, continued readying Syria options for Trump as if nothing had happened.”
That’s one interpretation of events – Trump casually destroying a key military exercise and perhaps bringing the world to the brink of annihilation with a taunting tweet at the Russians, then his hardened staff responding as it has learned to and continuing as if nothing happened.
Another interpretation is that Trump is trying to warn of consequences and give bad actors a chance to get out. That could explain his tweet: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” Perhaps there are breakthroughs in the works that will eliminate the need for the attack.
It also could explain why multiple Middle Eastern news services reported yesterday that Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, had fled the country to avoid the threatened U.S. onslaught.
Getting the Assads out of power in Syria has been a U.S. foreign policy goal for almost 50 years. Trump may be on the verge of accomplishing it through tweets.
That’s not how the Post saw it.
“The Twitter disruptions were emblematic of a president operating on a tornado of impulses – with no clear strategy – as he faces some of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, including Syria, trade policy and the Russian interference probe that threatens to overwhelm his administration.”
It then quotes a West Wing aide, “speaking on the condition of anonymity to share a candid opinion”:
“It’s just like, everybody wakes up every morning and does whatever is right in front of them. Oh, my God, Trump Tower is on fire. Oh, my God, they raided Michael Cohen’s office. Oh, my God. We’re going to bomb Syria. Whatever is there is what people respond to, and there is no proactive strategic thinking.”
He, of course, is on the verge of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein or both, as the Post has been reporting for months. That’s according, this time, to “several people familiar with Trump’s private comments.”
The Post reveled in the notion the probe is getting to Trump. “By Trump’s admission Wednesday on Twitter, Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice has consumed ‘tremendous time and focus.’ And in denying allegations of wrongdoing, the president seemed to equivocate in a parenthetical aside: “No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back).”
It’s chaos, according to the Post’s reporting.
“These and other pivotal developments come as many of the guardrails that previously helped stabilize the president – from West Wing aides to clear policy processes – have been cast aside, with little evident organization or long-term strategy emanating from the White House.”