President Donald Trump’s staffers have been trying to temper his obsession with the Russia probe, and the reporting on it, by starting his days with phone calls to outside legal advisers.
Those 6:30 a.m. calls are timed to give Trump some perspective on the case before he watches morning news shows and give him a sense of his legal team’s strategy for pushing back against the scandal engulfing his administration, three senior White House officials told the Washington Post.
So how’s that working out?
“Asked whether the tactic was effective,” the Post reported, “one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.”
The newspaper reported that Trump’s frustration with the investigation often erupts in rants to aides about TV news commentary or insults against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.
He publicly rants in all caps on Twitter about the probe, which he angrily dismisses as a “WITCH HUNT” or “HOAX,” while also ripping President Barack Obama for not doing enough to stop Russian election interference.
The White House is trying to keep the Russia probe from stopping its agenda, although the Trump administration still hasn’t quite found its footing on governance.
“Interviews with 22 senior administration officials, outside advisers and Trump confidants and allies reveal a White House still trying, after five months of halting progress, to establish a steady rhythm of governance while also indulging and managing Trump’s combative and sometimes self-destructive impulses,” the Post reported.
In the meantime, they’re trying to distract the president and lift his spirits by “trotting him around the country” to rallies like this week’s in Iowa, the newspaper reported, and planning some trade announcements and foreign trips next month.
Those efforts are also aimed at boosting Trump’s support with his base, which is showing signs of losing some enthusiasm.
“This is not astrophysics,” said chief strategist Steve Bannon said. “You solidify your base and you grow your base by getting things done. That’s what people want to see.”