After just 45 days into the Presidency of Donald Trump, former George W. Bush-era White House officials are becoming increasingly concerned that the recently elected president is spiraling out of control and endangering the country.
Less than a week after Trump addressed both houses of Congress and momentarily appeared “presidential,” Trump’s Saturday morning Twitter meltdown accusing his predecessor of having his Trump Tower office bugged before the election, has them substituting “erratic” for praise.
In an interview with Politico, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security under Bush, questioned whether the Trump that he called “hysterical” during the campaign has surrounded himself with advisers who can rein in his worse impulses.
“I draw comfort from the fact that the leaders of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security have military experience, they’ve been in combat, they’re not going to get flustered, they understand how to make things work operationally,” Chertoff explained “And that’s cause for optimism, provided that, you know, you don’t get young kids in the White House trying to get in the way and play cowboy.”
According to Chertoff, what he has seen from a White House that is in constant crisis mode over petty squabbles doesn’t bode well for the day when they are confronted with a real crisis.
“If you go for a period of time without a crisis, often when a crisis occurs, you’re a little rusty, and one of the things we learned was to do a constant process of exercising, even in the absence of a real event, because that’s how you retain your muscle memory when you’re responding to an emergency,” Chertoff said. “And frankly, it’s something that this administration ought to consider doing as well.”
Others are not so sanguine.
Speaking with the Washington Post, a former policy strategist lambasted Trump for being out of control.
“We have as president a man who is erratic, vindictive, volatile, obsessive, a chronic liar, and prone to believe in conspiracy theories,” conservative commentator Peter Wehner remarked. “And you can count on the fact that there will be more to come, since when people like Donald Trump gain power they become less, not more, restrained.”
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has a more restrained take, saying Trump needs to dial back the drama, particularly when it comes to counter-attacks over Russian involvement with White House officials.
“It would be more helpful if he turned over to the Intelligence Committee any evidence that he has,” the senator said on Face the Nation on Sunday. “It would probably be helpful if he gave more information, but it also might be helpful if he just didn’t comment further and allowed us to do our work.”