Why does Trump suddenly seem so weak? GOP and media no longer ‘cowering’ -- and the White House ‘has no strategy’
(AFP / SAUL LOEB)

Politico's Jake Sherman senses a shift in how President Donald Trump is covered by the media and defended by Republicans.


The website's senior writer and co-author of its Playbook newsletter appeared Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he said Trump's well-worn strategies for weathering scandals aren't working now that he's facing impeachment.

"The president's strategy here is a little bit worn out, according to all the Republicans we talk to," Sherman said. "He's trying to employ the same tool he's used for the last two years, and it's not been successful because he's dealing with a entirely new set of facts. An impeachment inquiry that is obviously extremely legitimate -- Congress has the right do this."

"We've heard him talk about the media like this before," Sherman added. "We've heard him call people crooked, we know he doesn't like Democrats. We know all of these things and, frankly, it's not having much effect because we've heard it now for two years."

Sherman pointed to a remarkable exchange between an angry Trump and a calmly persistent Jeff Mason, a reporter for Reuters who repeatedly pressed the president to explain what he wanted the Ukrainian president to do for him regarding Joe Biden.

"Reporters are standing up to the president and not cowering down when he bullies them, not that any reporter has before," Sherman said. "But it's important to keep that in mind. So these tricks that he's employed for two years are not terribly successful.

Sherman said the White House's chaotic response to the impeachment inquiry, and the swift pace of bombshell revelations that blow up the news cycle on a sometimes hourly basis have spooked congressional Republicans.

"You hear all around Washington the last couple weeks Republicans are very concerned that this White House has no strategy," he said. "Why does it have no strategy? Two important things to keep in mind. No. 1, he has no surrogates that are willing to go on television to defend him. Why is that? Because they don't know where the bottom is, they don't know the entirety of the story, because the president has not been forthright."

"People like Rudy Giuliani when they go on TV are roundly dismissed as a laughingstock because their behavior is so bizarre," Sherman added. "Lawmakers won't go on TV because they don't want to stand up for the president at this moment when they don't know everything."

The White House isn't set up to handle impeachment, he said, and it shows.

"He (has) a White House press operation that is not only not standard, it's not operational," Sherman said. "We don't have a White House press secretary that's operational in the sense that they're not briefing and doing anything proactive to change the narrative of this story or combat it."

"It's just incredibly bizarre to see all this lineup of circumstances that the White House is unwilling or unable to change," he added, "and that, in the face of an impeachment inquiry that's getting more and more serious, Democrats are saying that stonewalling is going to have consequences in that it could be evidence for obstruction, and the president has no strategy to handle this that we see in the public view."