“The Era of Primal Trump”: Insiders Fear Trump Is Lurching From One Nuclear Showdown to Another
During Donald Trump’s sleepless-in-Singapore star turn, White House advisers have been consoling themselves with the thought that, for at least a few days, his hot war with Robert Mueller has turned cold. Trump last tweeted about the Russia investigation on June 7. But there’s considerable anxiety that the détente is about to end. As Trump returns from Singapore after his historic, self-touted, inconclusive meeting with Kim Jong Un, people close to the president say the Mueller probe is reaching an inflection point. “It’s going to hit the fan pretty soon,” a friend of the president told me.
Within the next month, Mueller is reportedly planning to deliver his findings in the obstruction of justice investigation to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Donald is very worried,” said a Republican close to Trump. The difference is that Trump is now more unshackled than at any point in his presidency, meaning that firing Mueller or Rosenstein remains a possibility. “We’ve entered the era of primal Trump,” one outside adviser told me.
Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, “Your alleged source is wrong!”) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”
In the meantime, Trump seems to be relishing the freedom to act on his impulses, flying by feel and instinct, warring with Justin Trudeau and America’s G7 allies while praising Kim as “very talented.” “It’s now exactly like the Trump Organization,” said a friend who spoke with Trump shortly before he departed for the G7 summit. (On the call, Trump ranted about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo getting a prime-time show. He also groused: “I made Jeff Zucker.”) Driving Trump’s satisfaction is the fact that the wars that raged in the West Wing have been over for a while. Trump’s current cast of West Wing staffers acquiesce to his wishes, while his long-suffering Chief of Staff John Kelly is isolated and demoralized. The New York Times reportedon Sunday that Kelly told senators recently that the White House is a “miserable place to work.”
Another person who is enjoying the West Wing’s current power structure is Jared Kushner. Trump’s son-in-law had been sidelined by Kelly this past winter when he lost his security clearance. Now, Kushner openly flaunts his status in front of Kelly, having had his clearance restored. According to a Republican in frequent contact with the White House, Kushner recently stood up and walked out of a meeting that Kelly was leading. Kushner has told people that Kelly will be gone by the end of summer, according to a person who’s spoken with him recently. “Jared is strutting around with his balls out,” said the Republican.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.