FeaturedInternationalVolume 14 Issue # 03

Trump meets his Waterloo?

A new book and an anonymous article, supposedly written by a senior official in a newspaper, derogates US President Donald Trump. The book portrays him as erratic and ignorant, prone to profane outbursts, impulsive decision-making and details measures his top officials have taken to limit his destructive impulses. Experts fear it could lead to his impeachment or resignation as the writer had gained international fame for his reporting on the Watergate scandal in the 1970s that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.


According to veteran Washington-based journalist Bob Woodward, he had talked to top White House aides for the book, Fear: Trump in the White House, on the understanding that he would not reveal how he got his information. An Op-Ed in the New York Times, written by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration, describes a cabal of “unsung heroes” that acts to thwart parts of Trump’s agenda and his worst impulses. In response, Trump reportedly worried to a friend that he could trust no one but members of his own family. The book claims that he wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated and his chief of staff privately called the president an “idiot.” It paints a picture of chaos that mounts to an “administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch. According to the book, Mr. Trump told Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that he wanted to have Mr. Assad assassinated after the Syrian president launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017. Mattis told him he would “get right on it”, but instead developed a plan for a limited air strike that did not threaten Assad personally. Mattis told associates after a separate incident that Trump acted like “a fifth- or sixth-grader.” The White House dismissed the book as “nothing more than fabricated stories”.


Other revelations say former top economic adviser Gary Cohn stole a letter off Trump’s desk that the president planned to sign that would withdraw the US from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn, who tried to rein in Trump’s protectionist impulses, also planned to remove a similar memo that would have withdrawn the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. “I’ll just take the paper off his desk,” Cohn told another White House aide. Other aides insulted Trump behind his back. Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly called him an “idiot” and said “We’re in Crazytown … This is the worst job I’ve ever had”. Kelly has denied that he called Trump an “idiot”. His predecessor, Reince Priebus, reportedly fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop.” Trump treated top aides with scorn, the book says, telling Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that he was past his prime and calling Attorney General Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded”. Trump grew paranoid and anxious over the ongoing federal inquiry into whether his campaign colluded with Russia in Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, prompting aides to compare him to former president Nixon during the Watergate scandal.


In the New York Times article, a senior official in his administration wrote: “President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office. The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”


Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims. Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back. There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier. The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful. It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility. Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation, his colleague wrote.

The article and the book detail turmoil in President Donald Trump’s camp. Trump has blasted the book, calling it a work of “fiction.” and demanded that the New York Times reveal the identity of the writer so he or she might be charged with treason. To cloak himself from criticism, Trump also seeks to weaken America’s libel laws. He is not new to controversy, but the new publications really threaten his survival as the number of American people and his close aides is rising, who think he is disgrace to their country.