Paranoia in the Trump White House
In the Trump White House ‘People are scared.’
Last week Politico had a big piece on this.
“People are scared’: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House.”
“A culture of paranoia is consuming the Trump administration, with staffers increasingly preoccupied with perceived enemies — inside their own government.”
“In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to President Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a “deep state” of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them.”
“Aides are going to great lengths to protect themselves. They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop. They’re staying mum in meetings out of concern that their comments could be leaked to the press by foes.”
“Many are using encrypted apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read, or are leaving their personal cellphones at home in case their bosses initiate phone checks of the sort that press secretary Sean Spicer deployed last month to try to identify leakers on his team.”
“It’s an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf, key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal, and Trump’s ambitious agenda has been eclipsed by headlines surrounding his unproven claim that former President Barack Obama tapped his phone lines at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.”
“One senior administration aide, who like most others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that is unsustainable.”
A toxicity that is unsustainable. Well, I’m sure the way to improve things is to install loyalty monitors at each agency. That’ll lower the toxicity.
“The political appointee charged with keeping watch over Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides has offered unsolicited advice so often that after just four weeks on the job, Pruitt has shut him out of many staff meetings, according to two senior administration officials.”
“At the Pentagon, they’re privately calling the former Marine officer and fighter pilot who’s supposed to keep his eye on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “the commissar,” according to a high-ranking defense official with knowledge of the situation. It’s a reference to Soviet-era Communist Party officials who were assigned to military units to ensure their commanders remained loyal.”
“Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.”
“This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary’s suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request.”
It’s a relief to know that political concerns are totally predominating at the agencies. Another Washington Post piece over the weekend talks about a battle between the ‘New Yorkers and the ‘Populists’. For those who think populists are a good thing, remember the ‘populists’ in question are Bannon and Stephen Miller.
“Inside Trump’s White House, New York moderates spark infighting and suspicion.”
“Inside the White House, they are dismissed by their rivals as “the Democrats.”
“Outspoken, worldly and polished, this coterie of ascendant Manhattan business figures-turned-presidential advisers is scrambling the still-evolving power centers swirling around President Trump.”
“Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell — two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump’s elder daughter and his son-in-law — the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues.”
“On the other side are the Republican populists driving much of Trump’s nationalist agenda and confrontations, led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has grown closer to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in part to counter the New Yorkers.”
“As Trump’s administration enters its third month, the constant jockeying and backbiting among senior staff is further inflaming tensions at a time when the White House is struggling on numerous fronts — from the endangered health-care bill to the controversial budget to the hundreds of top jobs still vacant throughout the government.”
“The emerging turf war has led to fights over White House protocol and access to the president, backstabbing and leaks to reporters, and a heated Oval Office showdown over trade refereed by the president himself.”
“For the most part so far, the ideologues are winning. One revealing episode came as Trump weighed where he would travel this past Wednesday following an auto industry event in Michigan.”
“Would he jet to New York at the invitation of Canada’s progressive hero, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to attend a Broadway performance of “Come From Away,” a musical that showcases the generosity of foreigners?”
“Or would he fly to Nashville to dip his head in reverence at the gravesite of Andrew Jackson and yoke himself to the nationalist legacy of America’s seventh president?”
“Some of his New York-linked aides urged him to go to the play with Trudeau and Ivanka Trump, according to four senior Trump advisers. But Trump opted instead to follow his gut and heed Bannon’s counsel.”
“Absolutely not,” the president said later of going to the play, according to one of the advisers.
Trump aides pointed to his deliberation over what was a banal scheduling matter as an example of the Bannon-Priebus axis prevailing, as it has on many policy fronts — from national security to the budget to climate.
A narrative that you heard a lot about early-that there is a division between Bannon and Priebus seems not to be the case. To the contrary, Bannon and Priebus are both on the side of populism.
Clearly Trump ‘Going with his gut’ and being ‘The fiery populist’ is great politics.
60 days in, Trump is at a 37% approval rating. Obama never dropped that low in 8 years (& he had to deal with the global financial meltdown)
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) March 19, 2017
Rules of political gravity suspended.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.