Trump: Signs of growing panic
President Trump is in a dark place, said Eli Stokols in the Los Angeles Times. White House insiders say that Trump has retreated into a “cocoon of bitterness and resentment.” Stung by the Republican Party’s midterm election loss of the House, and unnerved by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Trump is lashing out at aides and sending out enraged tweetstorms. He’s mulling a Cabinet purge, openly talking of firing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and suggesting that Chief of Staff John Kelly “will move on.” The president has also been “increasingly absent” from his public duties, skipping events in France and the U.S. to honor America’s World War I dead because it was raining—a decision that was widely ridiculed. Blaming aides for his political troubles, a disengaged Trump dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to take his place at an economic summit in Asia. “He’s furious,” an administration official said. “Most staffers are trying to avoid him.”
Clearly, “Trump is starting to panic,” said Frank Rich in NYMag.com. It has “belatedly dawned” on him that he actually lost the midterm elections, leaving him vulnerable to meaningful congressional oversight for the first time in his presidency. In response, Trump has raged against the electoral process itself, insisting that the Democrats stole numerous elections through mass voter fraud. He sounds “unhinged.” Trump has also been railing on Twitter against Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, calling it “illegal” and “a total mess,” said Timothy O’Brien in Bloomberg.com. Trump has been meeting with his lawyers to craft answers to Mueller’s questions, and his tantrums indicate that he knows bad news is coming.
Trump should not fear Mueller, said Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal. A midterm exit poll showed that 54 percent of respondents now think the Russia probe is “politically motivated.” If the special counsel produces anything less than a smoking gun proving Russian collusion, most Americans will conclude that it was much ado about nothing, and Trump will be free to move on. Don’t be so sure of that, said Stephen Collinson in CNN.com. With the midterms over, the special counsel is reported to be close to releasing a host of indictments. Donald Trump Jr. has been privately telling friends he expects to be among them. In coming weeks, the threats that are making the president’s “mood so dark are likely to get worse.”