Early morning venting session

The Post looks in the windows of the White House again and finds a lot of people worrying about how to manage the angry Toddler in Chief.

President Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.

The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him.

Again, it’s interesting and significant that three senior people were willing to tell the Post that. As commentators have been commenting for months, it shows what a hot mess this administration is.

They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the “fake news” media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

In other words, they’re desperate to find some way to manage Mr Angry’s moods and tantrums and fits. They’re so desperate that they chat to the Washington Post about it.

And is it working? Ha, no, of course not.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.

Uh huh.

Trump’s grievances and moods often bleed into one another. Frustration with the investigation stews inside him until it bubbles up in the form of rants to aides about unfair cable television commentary or as slights aimed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein.

Not to mention the endless infantile tweets.

Interviews with 22 senior administration officials, outside advisers, and Trump confidants and allies reveal a White House still trying, after five months of halting progress, to establish a steady rhythm of governance while also indulging and managing Trump’s combative and sometimes self-destructive impulses.

Well what did they think would happen? Did they think this was an adult, responsible, disciplined, thoughtful guy? Proverbs about making silk accessories out of pigs’ ears come to mind.

West Wing aides are working to keep the president on schedule, trotting him around the country in front of the supportive crowds that energize him.


Some in the White House fret over what they view as the president’s fits of rage, and Trump’s longtime friends say his mood has been more sour than at any point since they have known him.

They privately worry about his health, noting that he appears to have gained weight in recent months and that the darkness around his eyes reveals his stress.

Others say oh no he’s perfectly fine, better than ever, brimming with optimism.

“What’s playing out is a psychological drama, not just a political drama or a legal drama,” said Peter Wehner, who was an aide in George W. Bush’s White House and has frequently been critical of Trump. “The president’s psychology is what’s driving so much of this, and it’s alarming because it shows a lack of self-control, a tremendous tropism. . . . He seems to draw psychic energy from creating chaos and disorder.”

Quite, and that was obvious before he was elected.

After Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director in May and scrutiny over Russia by investigators and journalists intensified, the president and his inner circle settled on a combative strategy to discredit critics, undermine the probe itself and galvanize his most loyal supporters.

Much like Bill Cosby doing a lecture tour on how not to get accused of rape. It’s the Roy Cohn Doctrine – always attack no matter what. Never mind ethics, truth, fairness, accountability, legality – just fight fight fight, the dirtier the better.

Trump is most bothered by what he views as the one-sided portrayal and overall unfairness of the Russia investigation, senior White House officials said. He thinks media reports automatically treat Comey’s version of events as superior to his own and have not focused enough on Mueller’s hiring of some investigators who have donated to Democratic candidates.

Yes well there’s a reason for that. It has to do most basically with presentation: with what we see when we look at them. It has to do, for instance, with how they talk. We compare what we saw and heard when Comey talked to that committee with what we see and hear when Trump talks to anyone. This is why we see Comey’s version of events as superior to Trump’s.

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