Even President Donald Trump’s allies are getting nervous as his behavior — never restrained or deliberative — has become more unpredictable and tumultuous in recent weeks.
In a new report from the Washington Post documenting what it called his last “twelve days of chaos.” journalists David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim found that officials and business leaders are frightened by what could happen next out of the White House:
Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior over the past 12 days — since he first threatened to seal the border in a series of tweets on March 29 — has alarmed top Republicans, business officials and foreign leaders who fear that his emotional response might exacerbate problems at the border, harm the U.S. economy and degrade national security.
The most recent sign of worry was Trump’s sudden purge at the Department of Homeland Security leadership — Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady have all been ousted, while the president withdrew his nominee for the ICE directorship. Congress was left baffled.
The Post details some of the machinations behind the leadership overhaul, which included the president fuming at Nielsen for being on a pre-planned overseas trip, causing her to fly back immediately in a desperate attempt to cling to her job.
Trump’s also been wildly levying and lifting threats and promises with no rhyme or reason. He has flip-flopped on plans for a new legislative push on health care while he’s gone back and forth on whether to close the U.S.-Mexico border — an extreme and unproductive step that would kneecap the nearby states’ economies.
But even before the year started, Trump was on a downward trajectory. He abandoned a federal funding deal he had agreed to with the Senate, only to shut down much of the government for nearly five weeks in an ultimately failed gambit to secure border wall funding. Having shot himself in the foot, he declared a national emergency at the border to seize military funds for the border wall in an extra-legislative power grab, only to rebuked by 12 Republican senators and face court challenges.
Trump and the White House have been relatively successful at spinning the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that ended without bringing any additional charges last month in his favor, but the president has failed to use the opportunity to claim higher moral ground. Instead, he and Attorney General Bill Barr are digging in for a major fight with Congress about releasing the final report, a move that is sure to bring only more chaos.