Sourced from The New York Times:
At a Besieged White House,
Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls
WASHINGTON — The bad-news stories slammed into the White House in pitiless succession on Tuesday, leaving President Trump’s battle-scarred West Wing aides staring at their flat screens in glassy-eyed shock.
IS TRUMP LOSING IT?
Or is the New York Times doing its best
to make out that Trump has already lost it?
The disclosure that Mr. Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials that had been provided by Israel was another blow to a besieged White House staff recovering from the mishandled firing of James B. Comey, the FBI director.
And the day was capped by the even more stunning revelation that the president had prodded Mr. Comey to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser. That prompted a stampede of reporters from the White House briefing room into the lower press gallery of the White House, where Mr. Trump’s first-line defenders had few answers but an abundance of anxieties about their job security.
The president’s appetite for chaos, coupled with his disregard for the self-protective conventions of the presidency, has left his staff confused and squabbling. And his own mood, according to two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has become sour and dark, and he has turned against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — describing them in a fury as “incompetent,” according to one of those advisers.
As the maelstrom raged around the staff, reports swirled inside the White House that the president was about to embark on a major shake-up, probably starting with the dismissal or reassignment of Sean Spicer, the press secretary.
Mr. Trump’s rattled staff kept close tabs on a meeting early Monday in which the president summoned Mr. Spicer; the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders; and the communications director, Michael Dubke, to lecture them on the need “to get on the same page,” according to a person briefed on the meeting.
By the end of the day Tuesday, it seemed that Mr. Spicer had, for the moment, survived. People close to the president said Mr. Trump was considering the firing of several lower-level staff members, including several hired by Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, while weighing a plan to hand most day-to-day briefing responsibilities to Ms. Sanders.
Even as Mr. Trump reassured advisers like Mr. Spicer that their jobs were safe on Monday, he told other advisers that he knew he needed to make big changes but did not know which direction to go, or whom to select.
In the meantime, the White House hunkered down for what staff members now realize will be an extended siege, not a one- or two-day bad news cycle.
The stress was taking its toll.
Late Monday, reporters could hear senior aides shouting from behind closed doors as they discussed how to respond after Washington Post reporters informed them of an article they were writing that first reported the news about the president’s divulging of intelligence.
As they struggled to limit the fallout on Monday, Mr. Spicer and other Trump aides decided to send Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, to serve as a surrogate.
They realized that selecting such a high-ranking official would in some ways validate the story, but they wanted to establish a credible witness account exonerating the president from wrongdoing — before the barrage of Twitter posts they knew would be coming from Mr. Trump on Tuesday morning.
The White House Counsel’s Office worked with the national security adviser, an Army general, on framing language, producing a clipped sound bite: “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.”
As he was working on his statement, General McMaster, a former combat commander who appeared uncomfortable in a civilian suit and black-framed glasses, nearly ran into reporters staking out Mr. Spicer’s office.
“This is the last place in the world I wanted to be,” he said, perhaps in jest.
As the general approached microphones on the blacktop in front of the West Wing, one of his deputies responsible for coping with the fallout could be seen peering behind the pack of reporters to see how her boss’s statement was being received.
On Capitol Hill, there were signs that Republicans, who mostly held the line after Mr. Comey’s ouster, were growing alarmed by Mr. Trump’s White House operation and impatient for something to be done about it.
“There need to be serious changes at the White House, immediately,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who wants Mr. Trump to appoint a Democrat to head the F.B.I. On Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called on Mr. Trump to operate with “less drama.”
In his comments to reporters on Monday, Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican close to some in the White House, was more explicit. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now,” he said, “and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.”
A dozen of Mr. Trump’s aides and associates, while echoing Mr. Trump’s defiance, privately agreed with Mr. Corker’s view. They spoke candidly, in a way they were unwilling to do just weeks ago, about the damage that the administration’s standing has suffered in recent weeks and the fatigue that was setting in after months of having to defend the president’s missteps, Twitter posts and unpredictable actions.
The latest crisis comes at the worst possible moment for Mr. Trump’s team. His national security and foreign policy staffs have been spending much of their time planning for his coming eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe — his first major overseas trip as president, and an opportunity, they thought, to reset the narrative of his presidency after the lingering controversy of Mr. Comey’s sudden dismissal last week.
There is a growing sense that Mr. Trump seems unwilling or unable to do the things necessary to keep himself out of trouble and that the presidency has done little to tame a shoot-from-the-hip-into-his-own-foot style that characterized his campaign.
Some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers fear leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn. General McMaster, in particular, has tried to insert caveats or gentle corrections into conversations when he believes the president is straying off topic or onto boggy diplomatic ground.
This has, at times, chafed the president, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation. Mr. Trump, who still openly laments having to dismiss Mr. Flynn, has complained that General McMaster talks too much in meetings, and the president has referred to him as “a pain,” according to one of the officials.
In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling — and honest — defense of the president for divulging classified intelligence to the Russians: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of his briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or the knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would harm American allies.
Mr. McMaster all but said that publicly from the briefing room lectern.
“The president wasn’t even aware where this information came from,” Mr. McMaster said. “He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”
ENDNOTE BY LD
ARE THE JEWS OUT TO GET DONALD TRUMP?
Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and senior adviser, is “f***ing furious” with the President for refusing to take his “advice”, i.e., suggestions probably coming from Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and other influential Jews elsewhere: advice that, if taken, will undoubtedly be “good for the Jews” but maybe not so good for everyone else.
“Kushner was f***king furious,” the source told Vanity Fair. “I’d never once heard him say he was angry throughout the entire campaign. But he was furious.”
A palace revolution? The plot certainly seems to be thickening. According to Zero Hedge:
Steven Cohen, Professor of Russian studies at Princeton and NYU, was besides himself tonight, in sheer disbelief over the witch hunt being used to assault the Presidency of Donald Trump.
He declared, “Today, I would say the greatest threat to national security is this assault on President Trump. Let’s be clear what he’s being accused of is treason. This has never happened in America, that we had a Russian agent in the White House.”
Cohen believes Flynn did nothing wrong by talking to the Russian ambassador, describing it as ‘his job’ to do so. He then illuminated the indelible fact that there is a 4th branch of government, the intelligence community, who have been meddling in American foreign affairs, obstructing the other three branches of government.