I’m not angry at anybody.
Donald Trump crammed a whole lot of bullshit into what the New York Times described as a “brief phone call” on Wednesday afternoon, but that quote right there might well have been the most dishonest thing he said during the short interview.
All you have to do to know that Trump is “angry” at pretty much everybody is follow him on Twitter. He’s furious at everyone from Democrats to Republicans to the media to NFL players to minorities to immigrants to other heads of state. Hell, he’s even furious at Puerto Ricans for not doing enough to clean up from a hurricane. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find someone Trump isn’t angry at these days.
The one person who you’d think might be immune is Ivanka, but according to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, her husband is in the proverbial doghouse.
You might recall that Sherman penned the now infamous piece that contained the following account of a conversation between Steve Bannon and the President:
Even before Corker’s remarks, some West Wing advisers were worried that Trump’s behavior could cause the Cabinet to take extraordinary Constitutional measures to remove him from office.Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president.
When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.
Bannon would later claim he never said that (or if he did that he’s since changed his mind), but if we were going to bet money on it, we’d wager that ol’ Steve probably broached the subject with Trump at one point or another.
Well according to Sherman’s latest for Vanity Fair, Trump’s advisers and friends are now begrudgingly considering “what the endgame” for the President looks like. Or, to quote Sherman, “for the first time since the [Mueller] investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.”
Sherman cites “a half-dozen” people close to the President who collectively paint a rather grim picture of the mood inside the White House. To wit:
The consensus among the advisers I spoke to is that Trump faces few good options to thwart Mueller. For one, firing Mueller would cross a red line, analogous to Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox during Watergate, pushing establishment Republicans to entertain the possibility of impeachment. “His options are limited, and his instinct is to come out swinging, which won’t help things,” said a prominent Republican close to the White House.
That echoes what we’ve said repeatedly over the past several weeks. For example, here’s what we said on Monday after Sarah Huckabee Sanders went into damage control mode during her daily briefing:
He could conceivably fire Mueller and risk triggering a constitutional crisis. As Chuck Schumer plainly stated this morning, that would lead to a truly horrendous backlash on Capitol Hill and it would leave everything – tax reform, health care, all of it – dead in the water.
The only other option is for Trump to start pardoning people, but remember, pardon power is supposed to be an act of mercy, not a tool to be used to insulate the presidency from criminal charges. If he starts pardoning people, it’s difficult to imagine that it won’t create the same kind of turmoil that firing Mueller would invariably create.
We’ve also variously suggested that far from signaling that the investigation is wrapping up (as Sanders and John Kelly contend), the Manafort indictment and the George Papadopoulos bombshell in fact betray the opposite: Mueller is just getting started and he’s going to go right on up the chain until he gets to Kushner. Sure enough, from Sherman:
Trump, meanwhile, has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. “Trump wants to be critical of Mueller,” one person who’s been briefed on Trump’s thinking says. “He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?” According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far.
Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”
Here’s what Nunberg said about Kushner and the Mueller probe:
Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization.
And then about Trump’s disastrous poll numbers:
Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked.
Yes, he sure is. And apparently Bannon is back to talking about the 25th Amendment. Here’s Sherman one more time:
Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.
That sure sounds a whole lot different than what Bannon is saying publicly which, you’re reminded, is this:
As we wrote a couple of weeks ago when Bannon made those remarks during a speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Steve knows better than that. He believes the first part about the populist/nationalist revolution, but he damn well doesn’t believe the second part about Trump. And the important thing to remember here is that in the end, Bannon doesn’t care. Trump was just a vessel for Bannon’s message and if that vessel sinks, well so be it – Bannon will just try and replace the entire damn GOP establishment with populist candidates and then let whoever the next President turns out to be try and deal with an army of Bannonites.
But getting back to Trump, he’s going to have to figure out a creative way to put the brakes on the Mueller probe if he wants to stay in office. Between the cooperating witness in Papadopoulos and the Manafort/Gates indictment, it’s clear that the special counsel isn’t fucking around here. Mueller will go after Flynn and Page next and then it’s just a matter of time before he gets to Kushner. After that, it’s over for Trump.
Our message to anyone who is actually serious about understanding this (as opposed to just waking up every day and trolling the internet in search of confirmation bias) is to spend an hour researching who’s on Mueller’s team and who Trump’s lawyers are. Trump is woefully outgunned. It’s not even close to a fair legal fight.
Also, spend an hour actually reading what’s known publicly about Flynn and Page and Kushner and then extrapolate from that to what Mueller probably knows.
Finally, think about how much political capital Trump has destroyed by alienating GOP lawmakers.
Don’t delude yourself. He’s doesn’t stand a chance here. He’s finished. Whether he knows it yet is another story, because while he is most assuredly angry at a lot of people, it’s not 100% clear that he fully appreciates the gravity of what’s unfolding.
And on that note we’ll leave you with one last quote from the Vanity Fair piece – this is from a Bannon aide who spoke to Sherman:
One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously. Stop joking around. Stop tweeting.