The Washington Post published a chronicle today of President Trump’s descent into a dangerous and volatile state of mind during the past few weeks, describing a White House filled with anxiety, malaise, and unrest with no end in sight in an administration that one staffer lamentedly described by saying “We haven’t bottomed out.”
The article depicts a President increasingly isolated and angry, fuming as cable news reports on the latest revelations of scandal. missteps, and outrageous corruption.
One of the events that seems to have particularly stuck in Trump’s craw is the photo published by Axios of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ solidarity dinner with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Solicitor General Noel Francisco on the day that Trump sent one of his vicious tweets attacking Sessions.
“The next morning, Trump was still raging about the photo, venting to friends and allies about a dinner he viewed as an intentional show of disloyalty,” according to the Post.
Even Trump’s friends are concerned about his emotional stability, sources say, and for good reason according to retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey.
“I think the president is starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well,” McCaffrey said. “Trump’s judgment is fundamentally flawed, and the more pressure put on him and the more isolated he becomes, I think, his ability to do harm is going to increase.”
Another commentator, Peter Wehner, a veteran of the three previous Republican administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, had a similarly pessimistic view.
“Trump’s fundamentally distorted personality — which at its core is chaotic, volatile and transgressive — when combined with the powers of the presidency had to end poorly,” Wehner said. “What we’re now seeing is the radiating effects of that, and it’s enveloped him, his White House, his family and his friends.”
The loss this week of communications director Hope Hicks who had been seen as a stabilizing influence on Trump may mean that it only gets worse from here, but with a schizoid double-reversal on gun control policy and an impulsive decision to start a tariff-based trade war with the rest of the world happening in just the past week, it’s difficult to envision how much worse they can get.
If we just wait for the next bit of news to emerge from the Mueller investigation, we’ll be getting a glimpse of just how much worse it can get soon enough. Given that Trump’s own friends and allies are describing the current situation as “pure madness,” it’s frightening to think of where the bottom may actually be.