With four weeks remaining in President Trump’s term, he may have arrived Unleash it And as the events of the past few days made clear, at the most unpredictable point of his presidency.
He’s still the most powerful person in the world, but he’s focused on the one area where he can’t get what he wants: a way to avoid leaving the position as a loser.
He spends his days holding back, looking for any hope, if not to reverse a course Election result Then at least to build a coherent case that he was robbed of a second term.
When he emerged from his relative isolation in the last days, he was suddenly suggesting that he would try it Detonate a bipartisan stimulus package, Pushing a wedge through his party in the process, and Grant clemency to a large group of allies and supporters, Mostly outside the normal operation of the Ministry of Justice.
He isolated himself in the White House, hosting a group of conspiracy theorists and hard-line supporters who deliberated on ideas such as challenging the election results in Congress and even Invoke martial lawSeeking to give some of them government jobs.
He is almost completely divorced from the leadership of the nation even as the Americans do I fell by the Coronavirus at Record rates. Faced with Aggressive cyber attack Almost certainly his response was carried out by Russia, and his response, to the extent that he was wounded, was to downplay the scale of the damage and inconsistency with his senior officials by suggesting that the culprit might in fact be China. It played almost no role in negotiating the stimulus bill just passed by Congress before We are working to disable it at the last minute.
It is not clear whether Mr.Trump’s recent behavior is anything other than a tantrum, attention-seeking, or some form of therapy for the man in control of a nuclear arsenal – although one alternative theory, if it is charitable, is that it is a strategic basis for A march full of grievances in 2024.
If nothing else, that would be a particular 27-day Washington concern.
This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials, Republicans, and allies of the president.
Most of his advisers believe that Mr. Trump will leave the White House for the last time by January 20. And the pardons he announced Tuesday night indicate that he is comfortable using his powers with force until then. But how far he will go to undermine election results, refuse to leave the White House or unleash a wave of unilateral political decisions in its final weeks is hard to discern.
However, his erratic behavior and detachment from his duties cause deep concern to even his most loyal aides and advisors.
For now, Mr Trump has told advisors that he is willing to stop listening to Sydney Powell, the attorney who pleaded with him by promoting a conspiracy theory about the election, and people like Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, who was present at a nearly-running meeting with Jammeh. Five hours in the Oval Office and then the Presidency last Friday.
But current advisers have described a daily struggle to prevent Mr Trump from giving in to his impulses to listen to those who tell him what he wants to hear. The most troubling issue, former advisers say, is the gradual disappearance of the core group of West Wing aides, who often operate in unison and could push him away from dangerous and legally questionable ideas.
His former national security adviser said, “The number of people who tell him things he doesn’t want to hear has decreased.” John R. Bolton, who had a very public parting With Mr. Trump who was vocal in objecting to crushing the President against his electoral loss.
Mr Trump has turned to aides like Peter Navarro, a trade advisor who has been trying to gather evidence of election fraud to bolster his boss’s allegations. He listens to Republicans insisting that Vice President Mike Pence can help influence the election during the usual routine process of ratifying elections early next month, despite the fact that this is not realistically possible.
Among Republicans on Capitol Hill, there is talk of clamping down on any of his supporters who might try to disrupt this process, a possibility that has become reality through Provocation of the President to Senator-elect Tommy Toberville of Alabama To quit the business.
However, it is not certain that Mr. Toberville will fulfill the president’s wishes, and even if he did, there is a possibility that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the leader of the Republican majority, would intervene to prevent such a move. Mr McConnell urged his rally not to raise objections when validating the results, as this would force others to vote publicly against the president.
Even in the best of times, Mr. Trump sought – and requested – reinforcements from people outside the White House to support whoever aides.
But in the White House, Mr. Trump is turning against his closest ally. He complained to his allies that Mr. Pence, who had been mocked for his unwavering loyalty over the past four years, must do more to defend him. He is furious that Mr. McConnell has recognized Biden as the winner in the election.
This week, Mr.Trump sent his aide a chart showing the timing of his endorsement of Mr. McConnell superimposed on polling data to claim he was responsible for Mr. McConnell’s re-election this year – a claim that political professionals might argue – and for the majority leader’s suggestion that he is averse to help him.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Trump tweeted criticism against the Senate leadership by attacking Mr. McConnell and the majority whip, Senator John Thun of South Dakota, who said any objection to the certification of election results would be as low as a dog.
In the Department of Justice, Attorney General William B. Audience bar and confirmation On Monday he rejected the need for special advisers To investigate election fraud, Hunter Biden appeared to be aiming in part to isolate his short-term successor, Geoffrey Rosen, from any further pressure on those fronts by the President.
Secretly, allies who have stood idly by like Mr. Trump have done away with others through purges of loyalty, and who have dismissed criticism that the president has authoritarian tendencies are expressing concern about the next four weeks.
Mr. Barr, whose last day in office was Wednesday, told colleagues that he had been alarmed by Mr. Trump’s behavior in recent weeks. Other advisers have privately said they are feeling tired and are looking forward to the end of the term.
For those who remained, the days were grim endeavors in which government officials compelled to spend time either carrying out the president’s demand to prove election fraud, or provoking his anger.
As Axios mentionedPat A. Cipollone, the White House adviser who pleaded with Mr. Trump to steer clear of proposed maneuvers such as getting federal officials to control voting machines to inspect them, has become a target of the president’s anger.
Mr. Trump has described Mr. Cipollone with irony, invoking his private mentor, ruthless and unscrupulous attorney Roy Cohen, as what the White House adviser should look forward to.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has objected to some of the president’s wishes, such as appointing Powell as a special advisor to screen voter fraud, but he also made a trip to Georgia on Tuesday to investigate ballot safety measures. Meadows, a former member of the House of Representatives, has bowed to his old colleagues’ efforts to challenge the vote in Congress, which may prevent the president from engaging more with Powell, but many Republicans view him as destructive of their party.
Other advisers have simply absent themselves at a time when the president was particularly unstable.
The president’s son-in-law and chief adviser, Jared Kushner, has been out of the country for long periods since Election Day, traveling across the Middle East for his credentials bargains. He has responded to people asking for his help with Mr.Trump by saying that the president is the grandfather of his children, which means there are limits to what he can do to help.
Mr. Trump has spent his days watching television calling Republicans looking for advice on how to challenge the election result and urging them to stand up for him on television. As always, he turns to Twitter for more support and venting his anger. He hasn’t played golf since it’s cooler, he’s reclusive at the White House, moving from home to the Oval Office.
Several of Trump’s advisers are hoping his planned trip to his private club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, will give him a change of landscape and a change of perspective. He is due to leave on Wednesday and stay over the New Year holidays, although some of his aides said he might still make a decision against that.