Trump: ‘I hate everyone in the White House’

Revenge is tweet: As usual, the president has conducted most of this week’s feuds on Twitter.

Has Donald Trump finally lost it? This week has seen him spar with his cabinet, his party, the NFL, Puerto Rico, TV networks and more. Those close to him now fear for his state of mind…

Donald Trump’s critics are fond of declaring him unstable. Many times they have predicted the downfall of his presidency. Now, however, their voices are louder than ever.

Trump’s chaotic week began on Sunday, when he picked a fight with a veteran Republican senator. The president tweeted that Bob Corker, who has supported him in the past, was not seeking re-election next year because he “didn’t have the guts”.

Corker replied by comparing Trump to a toddler, accusing him of running his office like “a reality show”, and said he was encouraging a world war with his comments. He added that most senior Republicans share his views. Trump then mocked Corker for his height and called him a “fool”.

The next day, NBC News reported that Trump requested a nearly tenfold increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal in July, prompting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call him a “moron”. Trump retorted that he would beat Tillerson in an IQ test. He then threatened to revoke the licences of “partisan” television networks, effectively questioning the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, the president caused alarm by vowing to cancel the Iran nuclear deal, which his party broadly supports. He continued to criticise NFL players’ protests, even as the White House downplayed his comments. He also implied that Puerto Rico was partly to blame for the damage caused by a recent hurricane.

As these spats played out in public, a series of leaks shed light on Trump’s behaviour in private. One person close to him described him as a tantrum-prone “whistling teapot”. There have been reports of “shouting matches” with Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is rumoured to be on his way out.

Citing his advisers, Vanity Fair noted that the president has been badly affected by the stalling of his legislative programme and the loss of his candidate in a recent primary. One confidant said that Trump is “unravelling”. He is said to have exclaimed: “I hate everyone in the White House!” — although the White House denies this.

Are Trump’s critics right this time?

The Fight House

“No,” say some. Anyone who says things have changed has not been paying attention this year. Trump has been tweeting opinions and picking fights since day one. This strategy helped put him in the White House, and it is too early to declare that his presidency has failed. Judge him not by his words, but by his deeds to come.

“Wrong,” reply others. What has changed is that Trump is now turning on his closest allies. Undermining Corker could cost him a crucial vote in the Senate. More generally, alienating Republicans makes him look stupid and the party look weak. If that is a strategy, it is a mad one, and final proof that Trump has lost touch.

You Decide

  1. Is Trump fit to be president?
  2. Is there a strategy behind Trump’s feuds?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are Trump’s advisers. As a class, read all his tweets since Sunday and decide which ones you would approve.
  2. Read The Washington Post’s article in Become An Expert. In 800 words, explain whether you think Trump should be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.

Some People Say...

“Life is a series of battles.”

— Donald Trump

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Trump likes to make bombastic threats. In the past, he has vowed to attack North Korea with “fire and fury”, deport 11m immigrants, “bomb the hell” out of Islamic State, “lock up” Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, and much more. In this light, his comments on TV networks’ licences and the Iran nuclear deal are fairly ordinary.
What do we not know?
Which of his threats he will act on. Some are plainly illegal: revoking the networks’ licenses would violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, for example. Others are perfectly possible. The Iran deal has to be renewed every 90 days; the next deadline is this Sunday, and many expect Trump to cancel the deal. Congress would then have to confirm the cancellation, however.

Word Watch

Bob Corker
Corker has represented Tennessee in the Senate since 2007. He chairs the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
IQ test
This is not the first time Trump has suggested an IQ contest. He challenged London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan to one after Khan called him “ignorant”.
Broadly supports
Most Republicans initially opposed the Obama administration’s deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in return for the country’s abandonment of its nuclear arms programme. Now that it is in place, however, most fear the instability that cancelling it would cause.
NFL players’ protests
Since 2016, some football players have protested against racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. Trump has called for these players to be fired.
Loss of his candidate
Trump backed Luther Strange to be the Republican nominee for a vacant seat in the Senate. After Strange lost, the president deleted his tweets expressing support for him.
Crucial vote
The Republicans have a majority of only two in the Senate. They are worried that a few rebels could sink their forthcoming plans for tax reform.

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