Wednesday, April 01, 2020


According to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, Donald Trump is so serious about being a "wartime president" that he's ... developed a new maturity and focus? Committed himself to long sessions of reading briefing books and consulting with experts?

No. The correct answer is: He's replicated the backstabbing chaos of the 2017 White House.
For an ordinary West Wing dealing with a crisis of this magnitude, the chief of staff would be a central player.... But Trump has only very intermittently been able to tolerate another person with power in his White House. Mick Mulvaney had essentially been a lame duck for months, and since he was pushed out in early March, there’s been no chief of staff at all—Mark Meadows, whom Trump appointed weeks ago, only resigned his congressional seat on Monday to fill the post. “How can you not have a chief of staff during one of the biggest crises in American history?” a former West Wing official said.

Jared Kushner, who’s often been in competition with Trump’s chiefs of staff, continues to be the central West Wing player, leading a shadow coronavirus task force that is more powerful than the official group led by Vice President Mike Pence. In conversations Kushner has blamed HHS Secretary Alex Azar for the criticism Trump has received, according to a person in frequent touch with the West Wing....

Meanwhile, Trump is also consulting his longtime confidante Hope Hicks, whom Trump hired back in February.... Officially, Hicks reports to Kushner, but according to sources, Hicks is constantly with Trump. “Hope is in charge of Trump’s calendar, which means Jared is in charge of Trump’s schedule,” a Republican who deals with the White House said. Sources said Hicks prepares Trump for his daily task force briefings and advises him to act presidential....

She is shaping the White House’s messaging, which puts the current communications director, Stephanie Grisham, out of the loop. For weeks, according to sources, Kushner has been looking to sideline Grisham but has been unable to displace her because Grisham remains close to Melania Trump, whom Grisham did communications for when she worked in the East Wing.
We're in a once-in-a-century crisis and this is what's going on in the White House: battles for power, power vacuums where power should reside, duplicate and conflicting centers of power, and the president relying primarily on people who came to the job with exactly zero expertise relevant to the current crisis.

We are so screwed.

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