Donald Trump's White House is positively toxic. Friday's news alone was a tour de force of the all-encompassing virulence that's now seeping from Trump throughout the entire executive branch and everything it touches.
Trump's days start with a crack-of-dawn phone call about everything Russia that's clearly aimed at distracting him and his thumbs from Twitter. Why his aides aren't just jingling some keys in front of him is a mystery, but the call is nothing but a venting session intended to soothe a sulking and brooding pr*sident.
Trump's entirely self-generated Russia predicament apparently has him miffed at his White House counsel Don McGahn. Somehow, McGahn has failed to stop Trump from engaging in a series of self-defeating, ill-advised, impulsive, and often petulant behaviors that have now made him the central focus of an obstruction probe. And make no mistake, that's McGahn's fault in Trump's view.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also causing a bit of consternation at the White House because, instead of hiring every appointee pushed his way, he's been "reviewing candidates" and insisting on a departmental assessment as he reportedly tries to restructure the agency. (Honestly, this news is a bit of a head scratcher since Tillerson helped gut the agency of expertise and has mostly functioned as a Trump minion with respect to Russia.) But whatever the problem with filling positions there, it appears to be a two-way street, with some Tillerson picks being entirely sidelined by the White House (similar to the difficulty Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has experienced with trying to get White House sign-offs on his top posts.)
And then there's Trump's inspirational jabs at his cabinet heads, like when he pantomimed firing his Veterans Affairs chief Friday during a bill signing for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. At the East Room ceremony, Trump joked with VA Secretary David Shulkin that he was sure the law would be "properly implemented," to which Shulkin responded, "Absolutely."
Smiling, Trump responded, “Better be, David, or …” He then made a pistol with his right hand, aimed it at Shulkin and mouthed his signature words: “You're fired!”
Nothing like a little light humor from someone with sociopathic tendencies.
This is all based on Friday reporting alone and, frankly, it’s not even the half of it. Trump's exceedingly dark world view and his sense that everyone is out to get him is infecting every level of government. One of his spokespeople tried to put a positive spin on it.
Citing his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal,” Hicks said, “Perhaps President Trump said it best many years ago when he wrote, ‘My general attitude all my life, has been to fight back very hard.'"
Unfortunately, Trump has no ability to distinguish between his real and imagined threats.
“What’s playing out is a psychological drama, not just a political drama or a legal drama,” said Peter Wehner, who was an aide in George W. Bush’s White House and has frequently been critical of Trump. “The president’s psychology is what’s driving so much of this, and it’s alarming because it shows a lack of self-control, a tremendous tropism. . . . He seems to draw psychic energy from creating chaos and disorder.”
That's what's sitting at the heart of our government right now and it's diseased.