Trump is wrecking the government because he can't learn how to be president: Nixon historian
President Donald Trump/Fox News screen shot

President Donald Trump's purge of top officials from the Department of Homeland Security is creating anxiety among historians who say he's going way past the guardrails of what a president should do -- and even some of the president's allies are expressing concern.

In an interview with Politico, former Trump official Cliff Sims worried that Trump was making the office of the presidency far more autocratic than it had been before he took office.

"What we are seeing is the erosion of the presidency to where what is left is just the president," he said.

Timothy Naftali, a historian and former head of the Nixon Presidential Library, said that Trump is trying to blow up traditional federal bureaucracies to make them into direct extensions of his will.

"Instead of learning to become presidential and accepting the structure of the American presidency, he is trying to reshape it," Naftali said. "He has removed anyone, it appears, who stood up to him and said he cannot do this. This is a huge test of our institutions."

But Scott Shuchart, a former senior adviser at DHS from 2010 to 2018, argued that Trump's moves are more inept than anything else, as nothing he does is likely to significantly change the behavior of the institutions he's trying to influence.

"They seem to think that by yelling at people in different ways, the actions of a quarter-million people who work at DHS will somehow change," he said.