Pres. Donald Trump is proving to be his own worst enemy in the White House as he repeatedly undercuts each small gain his administration makes, says a New York Times report published Saturday.
The reality TV star turned commander in chief’s tendency to self-sabotage was on full display this week, wrote the Times‘ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman, whether he was attacking the courts — again — for blocking his revised travel ban or continuing to insist against all evidence that former Pres. Barack Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower in the weeks preceding the 2016 election.
When Trump could be enjoying the fact that his healthcare bill will potentially come up for a vote in the House of Representatives next week, the Times said, “Mr. Trump, an agitator incapable of responding proportionately to any slight, appears hellbent on squandering his honeymoon.”
“Instead, he has sowed chaos in his own West Wing, and talked or tweeted his way into trouble, over and over again,” the report continued. “That was never more apparent than over the last week, when fresh questions about his refusal to release his tax returns and the blocking of his executive order sapped the spotlight from his efforts to build support for the health measure and even the unveiling of his first budget.”
The “self-lacerating” behavior has its fullest expression in Trump’s refusal to back down from the wiretapping claims, despite “continued unabated despite rebukes from Republicans, denials by the congressional intelligence committees and complaints from the British government.”
“It’s a pattern with him — he sometimes counterpunches so hard he hits himself,” said former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer to the Times.
Insiders say that the internecine struggles between factions in the Trump continue unabated. This week, former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn has aligned himself with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and is currently in favor as squabbles continue between former Breitbart.com CEO Stephen K. Bannon and former RNC head Reince Priebus.
The internal turf wars, said Hirschfeld Davis and Haberman, are a distraction for an administration that has stumbled from one self-induced crisis to another since inauguration on January 20.
Trump reportedly enjoys knowing his advisers are fighting among themselves because he believes it fosters competition and keeps any one adviser from accumulating too much power.
Republicans in Washington, however, are weary of seeing their agenda continually sidetracked by the president’s twitter battles and public missteps. In a week where Trump was expected — again — to “pivot” and adhere to message discipline, the president continued to propagate his spurious wiretapping story, dragging U.K. spy agencies into the mess by claiming Obama ordered them to surveil Trump when U.S. agencies balked.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated the allegations at a press conference and ultimately the administration provoked an international incident in which the U.S. government was forced to fall back on blaming a Fox News talking head for the president’s gross misstatements and accusations.
Friday’s “awkward” press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed Trump’s worst sides, from his insults to German journalists to mistakenly calling the country his “company” to his dogged insistence on repeating the lie that his administration was wiretapped by Pres. Barack Obama.
On Saturday morning, the president sent out a slew of tweets demanding that Germany pay back “vast sums of money” that it “owes” the U.S. for the NATO alliance, which led many to assume that the president has absolutely no idea what NATO is or how it works.
Ari Fleischer tried to put a positive spin on the week by telling the Times that, legislatively, the administration is doing great things.
“This White House is on two tracks,” Fleischer said. “The legislative one, which has been surprisingly and pleasantly productive, and the other one full of self-induced error.”