Less than three weeks into his administration, Donald Trump is already considering overhauling the White House. And somehow, that may not even be at the top of his (growing) list of concerns.
A galling new investigation from Politico, based on interviews with two dozen people who have spent time with Trump since the inauguration, suggests the president is completely cowed by the complexities and responsibilities of managing a federal bureaucracy, his staffers bordering on mutinous: “[It’s] a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high.”
Here are five of the more explosive findings from its bombshell report:
1. Trump possesses a tenuous grasp of how government actually works
Trump often asks simple questions about policies, proposals and personnel. And, when discussions get bogged down in details, the president has been known to quickly change the subject — to “seem in control at all times,” one senior government official said — or direct questions about details to his chief strategist Steve Bannon, his son-in-law Jared Kushner or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump has privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies.
2. Leaks from the White House are driving him up the wall
The administration is considering limiting the universe of aides with access to the calls or their transcripts, said one administration official, adding that the leaks — and Trump’s anger over them — had created a climate where people are “very careful who they talk to.”
3. Jared Kushner’s feud with Chris Christie is alive and well
Kushner, who is among Trump’s most trusted advisers, has been incensed by reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has ripped the White House over its implementation of Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, is telling people that he expects to enter the White House as part of a “second wave” of staffers that will replace initial hires. Kushner has long had tensions with Christie—who as Attorney General of New Jersey prosecuted Kushner’s father—and played a key role in blocking him from getting a senior job in the administration.
4. Trump can’t quit his “SNL” habit, and it’s threatening Sean Spicer’s job security
Trump, a voracious consumer of cable news, has been known to critique aides and surrogates for their appearances. After Spicer’s press briefings, the president has told his spokesman that he’s unhappy about specific answers or his demeanor.