As his press secretary, Sean Spicer, was still unpacking boxes in his spacious new West Wing office, Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.As Josh Marshall writes, citing this story and other recent insider accounts,
Pundits were dissing his turnout. The National Park Service had retweeted a photo unfavorably comparing the size of his inauguration crowd with the one that attended Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony in 2009....
Trump’s advisers suggested that he could push back in a simple tweet....
But Trump was adamant, aides said. Over the objections of his aides and advisers -- who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency -- the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response, and he wanted it to come from his press secretary....
At the center, as always, is Trump himself, whose ascent to the White House seems to have only heightened his acute sensitivity to criticism....
Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media’s failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.
... the Trump White House leaks not so much like a sieve as a bucket with no bottom.But beyond that, the staffers are stabbing one another in the back. The head of the inaugural committee makes it known to the Post that he recommended only a mild response to the inaugural coverage:
The Trump White House not only leaks like crazy. It casually leaks the most intimate and humiliating details about the President -- hurt feelings, ego injury, childlike behavior, self-destructive rages over tweets, media failure to credit his own grandiosity. We have simply never seen this level of leaking, with this little respect for the President's dignity or reputation, this early.
Trump’s advisers suggested that he could push back in a simple tweet. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a Trump confidant and the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, offered to deliver a statement addressing the crowd size.But then Sean Spicer makes it known that blames the inaugural committee for bad data:
By most standards, Spicer’s statement Saturday did not go well.... He publicly gave faulty facts and figures -- which he said were provided to him by the Presidential Inaugural Committee -- that prompted a new round of media scrutiny.Further intrigues are aired:
Unlike other senior aides -- Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, counselor Kellyanne Conway and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law -- Spicer does not enjoy a close and long-standing personal relationship with Trump.And clearly someone who's pro-Spicer is trying to undermine Conway by saying that Conway is trying to undermine Spicer.
During the campaign, Trump was suspicious of both Priebus and Spicer, who ran the Republican National Committee and were seen as more loyal to the party than to its nominee. Some privately wonder whether Conway is now trying to undermine Spicer.
As Trump thought about staffing his administration following his surprise victory, he hesitated over selecting Spicer as White House press secretary. He did not see Spicer as particularly telegenic and preferred a woman for the position, asking Conway to do it and also considering conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and Monica Crowley -- who ultimately stepped down from an administration job because of charges of plagiarism -- before settling on Spicer at the urging of Priebus and others."Trump never really liked you, Sean." (Although we're told that Trump was pleased with the news conference Spicer conducted yesterday.)
Oh, and here's more backstabbing:
Two people close to the transition also said a number of Trump’s most loyal campaign aides have been alarmed by Kushner’s efforts to elbow aside anyone he perceives as a possible threat to his role as Trump’s chief consigliere. At one point during the transition, Kushner had argued internally against giving Conway a White House role, these two people said.Trump, we're told, is very pleased with Conway (which we didn't need to be told, given how prominent a role she continues to play is his permanent disinformation campaign). But one or more of her haters just had to get all this in.
Because Conway operates outside of the official communications department, some aides grumble that she can go rogue when she pleases, offering her own message and promoting herself as much as the president. One suggested that Conway’s office on the second floor of the West Wing, as opposed to one closer to the Oval Office, was a sign of her diminished standing. Though Conway took over the workspace previously occupied by Valerie Jarrett, who had been Obama’s closest adviser, the confidant dismissively predicted that Trump would rarely climb a flight of stairs.
This is fine for now, I guess. But do you want this to be the team in the event of another 9/11, another Cuban missile crisis, or even another Katrina? If you're in the military or have kids who are serving, do you want this crew running a war?
Trump, we're told, runs his businesses this way, with competing power centers. But there isn't incessant interest -- daily interest -- in the inner workings of the Trump Organization, even in New York. Unless something really juicy happens, no one wants to read how daily meetings at Trump's offices are going. This is different. It's the White House. Leaks become news on an ongoing basis.
This is going to be an ongoing national and global embarrassment.