Donald Trump's inner circle continues to paint the sitting president as an erratic, unstable figure who is only refraining from doing "crazy stuff" due to their own interventions.
We talked to a half dozen senior administration officials, who range from dismayed but certain to stay, to disgusted and likely soon to leave. They all work closely with Trump and his senior team so, of course, wouldn't talk on the record. Instead, they agreed to let us distill their thinking/rationale:
"You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill": The most common response centers on the urgent importance of having smart, sane people around Trump to fight his worst impulses. If they weren't there, they say, we would have a trade war with China, massive deportations, and a government shutdown to force construction of a Southern wall.
A president's senior staff telling reporters, albeit anonymously, that the only thing standing between us and national insanity is their own collected effort is Very Not Normal. It’s also very telling that one of the things they’ve had to talk Trump out of is, quote, “massive deportations.” So apparently that has indeed been on Trump’s personal agenda.
Many talk about their reluctance to bolt on their friends and colleagues who are fighting the good fight to force better Trump behavior/decisions. They rightly point out that together, they have learned how to ignore Trump's rhetoric and, at times, collectively steer him to more conventional policy responses.
Senior administration officials defending their decision to stay by declaring that they've learned to "ignore" the president's statements is also a hell of a thing.
Nearly everyone around Trump has been painting the same picture: The man is erratic, temperamental, and willing to do "crazy stuff" like trade wars and mass deportations on an apparently regular basis if not talked down each time by his own staff.
But none of them, yet, appear to consider his penchant for “crazy stuff” an untenable danger to the nation. It's not clear why.