President Donald Trump, “who has never been convinced that his aides have his best interests at heart, has felt increasingly aggrieved” in recent months. We have that word from two reporters for the New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers, and it fits with what we have seen from him in public.
The reporters explain Trump’s anger as a function of his “sense of paranoia.” But this is typical MSM nonsense. Trump is absolutely right that someone in his administration keeps undermining him.
Haberman and Rogers report that Trump was angry that he’s not getting enough attention for his triumphs, and blames “distractions” like the recent story that one of his press aides, Kelly Sadler, had cracked that Sen. John McCain’s opposition to one of his nominees wouldn’t matter because “he’s dying anyway” from brain cancer.
Trump should be mad about that. Somebody created the impression that you could make such comments in his White House. Then somebody - it had to have been a decision made high up in the administration - failed to have anyone in the administration apologize for Sadler’s remark, thus ensuring that the story would linger for days.
Somebody in the administration fired James Comey as FBI director and then couldn’t stick to a straight story about why he was fired, leading to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate it.
Trump has reason to be angry at whoever blew his chance at getting a deal to fund a wall at the southern border. First someone told the Democrats that they could get an amnesty for illegal immigrants who came here as minors without having to agree to any additional measures to enforce immigration laws. Then someone in the administration insisted that there would be conditions, maximalist ones.
Somebody has been stepping all over the story Trump wants to tell about a rising stock market and a strong economy by indulging in scattershot bouts of protectionism that cause the markets to sink and threaten the economy.
Somebody in Trump’s circle hired Rudy Giuliani to represent him in legal negotiations and talk about it on TV. The former New York City mayor has contradicted other Trump lawyers and himself. He even suggested that Trump had Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) paid off so that news of his infidelity with her wouldn’t affect the election — linking a private matter to campaign finances in a way that posed a legal threat to Trump.
Whoever signed him up was not doing the president any favors.
Whoever is undermining Trump has seen to it that he hires people who make him unhappy. This same person, one assumes, is causing Trump to lash out in public against those people but then hold off on firing them. Maybe this is all part of a plot to make the administration a toxic atmosphere where nobody feels any loyalty and everyone leaks?
According to the Times story, the president believes his communications staff is responsible for his disappointments. He’s right that a lot of his problems are coming from inside the White House. There may be a saboteur even higher up than he thinks.
Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist.