Donald Trump’s signature chaos engulfed the White House last week as the president executed a series of bizarre and seemingly erratic decisions that caught many in his own administration off-guard. But while Trump may thrive in disarray, Republicans have finally had enough of the president’s turbulent management style.
“Anyone in a position of responsibility in GOP politics is quickly losing patience with President Trump,” Alex Conant, a former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), told the New York Times. “The dysfunction is beyond strange, it’s dangerous.”
“If Trump’s poll numbers were above 50 percent, health care reform would have passed,” Conant continued. “Instead, he’s spent more time responding to cable TV chatter than rallying support for his agenda.”
Indeed, even as the Republican party tried—and failed—to follow through on a seven-year-long pledge to “repeal and replace Obamacare” (a pledge Trump himself made a staple of his candidacy), the president chose instead to focus his efforts on staff infighting and, inexplicably, transgender military personnel.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!,” Trump tweeted Tuesday, continuing his weeks-long effort to trash his attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1500977544.0
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump once again knocked Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, a move that ultimately resulted in the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump previously characterized this decision as “very unfair to the president,” and insisted he would not have appointed Sessions had he known ahead of time. He also offered an alternative history of how Sessions came to endorse candidate Trump.
“When they say [Sessions] endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Trump told the Journal. “I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ‘What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”
Trump’s revisionist history of Sessions’ endorsement ignores much of what’s previously been reported about the president’s earliest and most loyal supporter. In the book Devil’s Bargain, Bloomberg’s Joshua Green reveals Sessions went out on a limb when he backed Trump during the Republican primaries. According to Green, Sessions—then a popular senator from Alabama—made the leap after top Trump adviser Steve Bannon convinced him the brash New York real estate mogul was the right vessel for his conservative ideals.
"If I do this endorsement and it doesn't work, it's the end of my career in the Republican Party,” Sessions reportedly told Bannon. After some persuasion from the Breitbart chief executive, Sessions decided he was “all-in” for Trump.
Trump’s characterization of Sessions’ endorsement drew swift backlash from conservatives, many of whom have been hesitant to take on the president. “Sessions is not weak,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said. “He’s strong. He’s a man of purpose, integrity, substance.”
Trump’s public flogging of his own attorney general was not the only shocking and distracting decision the president made this week. On Thursday, Trump tweeted—out of the blue—that the United States would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve the military.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501073758.0
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501074279.0
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501074501.0
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
“Thank you,” the president added.
Those tweets drew bipartisan rebuke from lawmakers, who criticized the president for announcing his unilateral decision via Twitter. Senior military officials, including VA Secretary David Shulkin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Joseph Dunford were unaware of the change until the president’s tweets.
To cap off the president’s week, on Friday he parted ways with Reince Priebus amid public infighting between his chief of staff and newly-appointed Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. The decision came one week to the day after former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation.
Meanwhile, GOP senators voted down two separate bills to repeal Obamacare, a process the president largely ignored until the defeat of his party's “skinny repeal” bill on Thursday.
In true form, Trump on Friday took to his favorite medium—Twitter—to criticize Republicans over their legislative failures and urge lawmakers to change Senate rules in order push bills through.
“Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time,” Trump wrote.
“After seven years of 'talking' Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding Obamacare,” he later added.
Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501327972.0
After seven years of "talking" Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501345152.0
Despite historic failures and few paths forward, Trump seems intent on barreling ahead with his scorched Earth policy—regardless of the outcome.
“Everybody knows what needs to be done to fix it, and I think everybody is coming to accept that they’re not going to happen,” Sara Fagen, a White House political director under President George W. Bush, told the Times. “And the reason they’re not going to happen is the person at the top of the food chain is not going to change."
"This is the new normal," she continued. "This goes down as one of the worst weeks he’s had politically and PR-wise, but I don’t think anything will change.”