The Spectator

Trump on the edge

How long can the US President survive when even his loyal supporters are turning against him?

Donald Trump has often wrong-footed the media. In last year’s election his campaign seemed to be always on the verge of falling apart, but it didn’t. Candidate Trump was endlessly engulfed by crisis. The media said he could not win, but he did.

It’s tempting to think that the Trump presidency fits the same pattern; that all the chaos in the White House, that reports of the horrifying incompetence of his administration and his dangerously erratic behaviour are exaggerated: fake news, as he would say. But it doesn’t. Just four months in, the Trump presidency is starting to look unviable.

Trump’s greatest problem is himself. He seems determined to plunge himself into scandal. The allegations against him are grave and mounting. In the last few days, it has emerged that he spilled classified ‘codeword’ intelligence to the Russian government just to show off; that he urged FBI director James Comey to abandon an investigation against former national security adviser Mike Flynn because Flynn is a ‘nice guy’; and that he fired Comey for not helping him cover up his links to Russia.

Even if none of these is as bad as it first seems, and looking past the undeniable media bias against him, we can see a presidency out of control. The sheer volume of outrage and the level of briefing against him shows disintegration in his own team. At best, this is an administration that is very good at pretending that it has no idea what it is doing. At worst, it is already completely dysfunctional.

Well past his first 100 days, many key government departments have not been properly staffed. The State Department is being called a ‘ghost ship’. The White House seems riddled with animosities and warring factions, overseen by a president unable and unwilling to admit that anything might be wrong, a president who still takes to Twitter almost daily to vent his spleen.

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