On Thursday, President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned after what was reportedly a heated confrontation about Trump’s plan to surrender in Syria.
CNN’s Don Lemon had two New York Times columnists, Nicholas Kristof and Frank Bruni, on his show to discuss where the Trump administration stands after losing one of its most respected officials.
“Is this administration melting down?” asked Lemon.
“That phrase has been in my head all day,” said Bruni. “You said it’s a monumental night a few minutes ago. There is no hyperbole in that. I sit here and feel anxious and fearful and sad about the country, because the way this president is behaving, and all the things you just mentioned, it does feel like we’re on the precipice of something bad—if we’re not there already.”
Unlike other defections in Trump’s turnover-heavy cabinet, this one seemed like a major loss, said Bruni.
“Jim Mattis was the best of this administration. This is not an administration that is overloaded with talent. He was the pinnacle of the administration and he was trying to stay in that job as long as possible, as long as he felt that he could make a positive effect on President Trump and he is seeming to say that this president is ineducable,” he said. “And when you hear that it’s impossible not to feel great fear about the direction of this country.”
“When President Trump took office, there were competing theories. One is he would learn more about the world. That he would be restrained by advisors and gradually grow into the position,” Kristof said. “And the other was that he would gradually shake off the constraints and go his own way. Clearly, the second course has taken effect. At the end of the day, I think he’s domestically constrained by institutions, by Congress, by laws—and the area where he has, the president has the greatest autonomy, of course, is international affairs.”
Things will only get worse without Mattis, the “proverbial adult in the room,” Bruni said.
“We’re left with even less talent in this administration,” Bruni said. “This administration can’t find a new chief of staff. It just can’t attract top talent and that’s because—you mentioned pettiness before. It’s because of the way Donald Trump behaves and treats people. He has joked that he only gets the best. He has no access to the best because the best don’t want to have anything to do with a culture this chaotic and this ungrounded.”
‘They sense weakness’: Former senator says the world is ‘smirking’ as Trump flails away at latest China tariffs
Former Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) appeared on CNN Friday to discuss how President Donald Trump has completely mishandled his long-running trade war with China.
While talking about trade with CNN's Jim Sciutto, Baucus said that China timed its new announcements of tariffs against $75 billion worth of American goods specifically to humiliate the president.
"They sense weakness," explained Baucus, who has also previously served as an American ambassador to China. "And I think that they see a weakness in the United States today. Trump has been weakened because of the weakened American economy and they're retaliating against the tariffs that Trump imposed after there was a truce there would be no tariffs."
Trump aide Cuccinelli snaps after CNN’s Camerota shows him pictures of caged kids: ‘I’m not going to take that’
A CNN interview with acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli took a contentious turn on Friday morning after host Alisyn Camerota showed him pictures of immigrant children being held in cages and asked him why he would want to hold them even longer based upon a recent policy change he instituted.
As the CNN host pressed the Trump administration official on plans to hold children indefinitely, she put pictures of the kids in cages up on the screen which angered Cuccinelli.
"On one level it protects children, but it also exposes children to the overcrowding. Here's some of the roll we've been playing for months," she began, only to have the White House official cut her off.
Trump may look unstable now — but the economy is going to make him much worse: CNN’s April Ryan
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," analyst and American Urban Radio Network Washington bureau chief April Ryan walked through how President Donald Trump backed himself into a corner by trying to build his brand on a great economy — and is coming to pieces as a result.
"April, what are you hearing? Is the economy causing the president's erratic behavior?" asked anchor Kate Bolduan.
"Yes, yes, and yes," said Ryan. "This president has been touting a great economy, and this is the cornerstone since I guess since the very beginning of his administration for people to feel that he should win re-election, that he is firmly planted for the American public and he's working for them," said Ryan. "But indicators, non-traditional indicators, are saying something different. He is having a hard time trying to marry the great economy with what it looks like for the American public, particularly the grassroots."