On Twitter Wednesday evening, President Trump reacted to the senior member of his administration who anonymously penned a scathing New York Times op-ed about Trump's competency and agenda.
In the piece, the official describes Trump as acting "in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic," someone who "is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making." This person said other members of the administration have discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, but "no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly released a statement blasting the anonymous author, and Trump told reporters the mystery source is "probably failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons." He didn't stop there — Trump then tweeted Fox News' footage of his off-the-cuff remarks, with the caption, "The Failing New York Times!" followed by a one-word message: "TREASON?" It's a tweet that can be taken several different ways — was he assailing the anonymous source? Trolling Democrats so they could fire back, "You finally admitted it!" Honestly asking for someone to please define the word for him? Go ahead and make of it what you will. Catherine Garcia
President Trump's Twitter feed this week is a jumble of transcribed Fox News quotes, campaign endorsements, positive affirmations of economic data, and bizarre or false, often vitriolic attacks on the media, tech companies, and various members of the law enforcement community. What's going on? Three theories:
1. Trump's agitated about the Russia investigation: "The president's tweetstorm late this week reflects a certain agitation with the news swirling around him, according to people close to Trump, including a growing anxiety within the White House about the possibility of the 'I-word,'" impeachment, Ashely Parker reports at The Washington Post. Those tweets focus on the "Rigged Russia Witch Hunt" by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and various other Justice Department and FBI officials who, as The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand points out, all have "extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia."
2. Trump wants to reclaim the spotlight from McCain: As the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was being eulogized on Thursday, "Trump aggressively tried to wrestle back the attention," tweeting about his 2016 victory, "fake news" — anything but McCain, Katie Rogers says at The New York Times. When McCain's body arrived in Washington, Trump was at a rally in Indiana, and when McCain is being celebrated by "virtually all of official Washington," Rogers and Michael Shear report, "Trump is expected to have retreated to Camp David, where White House aides hope he will contain his anger at the attention being lavished on Mr. McCain."
3. He's sprinting toward authoritarianism: Trump's tweets, Parker says, "are bound by one unifying theme: All of his perceived opponents are peddling false facts and only Trump can be trusted." NYU history professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat says claiming to "the only arbiter of truth" is the hallmark of "an authoritarian in the making or an authoritarian wannabe. ... When Donald Trump is starting to raise the specter of trying to fiddle with search engines and saying that they are rigged — this raises alarm bells in me as a scholar of authoritarianism." Peter Weber
Trump tweets out early-morning attacks on CNN, books, baselessly claims NBC News 'fudged' his Comey interview
President Trump went on an early-morning Twitter tirade against his favorite media punching bags Thursday, first claiming that CNN's "hatred and extreme bias" against him has "made them unable to function," and suggesting that AT&T fire Jeff Zucker ("Little Jeff Z") because "his ratings suck." Trump then said NBC News was actually "the worst," predicting that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack "is about to be fired (?) for incompetence" — the rumors are actually that he's in trouble due to Matt Lauer's sexual misconduct and other #MeToo scandals — and made a curious, apparently unsubstantiated claim that NBC News "fudged" the interview where Trump admitted on national TV that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation.
What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2018
Trump concluded by throwing "fake books" into the media bonfire and declaring that all media are the "Enemy of the People!" NBC News political director Chuck Todd seems to be subtweeting the president here, and suggesting you avert your eyes in embarrassment.
I miss the days when people muttered nutty conspiracy theories to themselves while meandering down a sidewalk. Now they share it on Twitter w/millions of followers and for some reason some folks amplify it. Treat these tweets the way you’d treat the sidewalk mumbler, look away
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) August 30, 2018
Certainly, taking the occasional break from the Twitter machine is good for everybody's mental health. Peter Weber
President Trump said on Twitter early Tuesday that he had typed his name into Google and was dismayed with what he saw, suggesting that the lack of good news about him at the top of the search engine's results is "rigged" and might be "illegal."
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of...
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
....results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Another possibility is that Trump just had a historically bad week — several key allies or employees were either convicted of federal crimes or reached plea deals with prosecutors, his former lawyer swore in court that Trump had directed him to commit a federal crime, and intra-party nemesis Sen. John McCain managed, in his death, to provoke Trump into an ill-advised fit of pique followed by a soft capitulation.
But as they say, sometimes you have to make your own good news, so Trump tweeted next about the booming stock market and quoted Fox Business pundit Lou Dobbs about how great Trump has been for minorities. Take that, Google. Peter Weber
On Sunday night, President Trump tweeted out his own attaboy.
Over 90% approval rating for your all time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall. This despite all of the made up stories by the Fake News Media trying endlessly to make me look as bad and evil as possible. Look at the real villains please!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2018
Some polls have shown Trump with 90 percent approval among Republicans — which isn't a record, and 28 percent of voters identify as Republicans, according to Gallup — but the 52 percent approval rating baffled poll watchers. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has Trump at 43.6 percent approval, 52.7 percent disapproval, and none of the polls show his approval rating higher than 46 percent (Rasmussen). It's possible Trump meant to type 42 percent, but the prevalent theory is that he looked at the recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which shows him with a 52 percent disapproval rating.
A few recent Rep at 90, though they are rare. I have no public poll at 52 approve. pic.twitter.com/n9IobKxoPv
— Charles Franklin (@PollsAndVotes) August 27, 2018
So, are Fake Polls a thing? Peter Weber
It's unclear what prompted President Trump's mean tweet about former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on Tuesday morning, but he sent this short diatribe exactly 18 minutes after CBS This Morning posted a new recording from Manigault Newman that purports to lend credence to her claim that the president was recorded saying the N-word.
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
Trump's new attacks on Omarosa — "crazed, crying lowlife" and "dog" — follow earlier tweets in which he called her a "loser" and "not smart." In other words, as author Isaac Fitzgerald noted in response to Trump's tweet, the president's not doing much to undermine Manigault Newman's assertion that he's a racist. Peter Weber
Who needs tapes? https://t.co/cyABHGVyO9
— Isaac Fitzgerald (@IsaacFitzgerald) August 14, 2018
President Trump tweeted on Monday night that Mark Burnett, the producer of The Apprentice, "called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa."
Trump is referring to Omarosa Manigault Newman, his former White House adviser and a repeat Apprentice contestant, who on Sunday said she personally heard a recording of Trump using the N-word during filming for the show. "I don't have that word in my vocabulary, and never have," Trump tweeted, adding that Omarosa said "such wonderful and powerful things about me — a true Champion of Civil Rights — until she got fired."
In 2016, after the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about assaulting women was released, Burnett announced he could not release any tapes of Trump on the set of The Apprentice due to "various contractual and legal requirements." Burnett released a statement that he was "NOT 'Pro-Trump'" and he and his wife, actress Roma Downey, "reject the hatred, division, and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign." Catherine Garcia
Trump claims by sanctioning Iran and scrapping nuclear deal, he's 'asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!'
In May, President Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated with Iran and a handful of world powers. On Monday, Trump followed through with his threat to reimpose sanctions lifted under the deal, despite strident protest from European allies. He defended his actions in a tweet early Tuesday and not-so-subtly warned Europe that it had better follow his lead.
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
Trump's assertion that he's "asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" is probably galling to Europe, since Iran was, by all accounts, following through with its end of the bargain. Under the deal, Iran agreed to largely dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and prove that it was not taking steps to develop a nuclear weapon for at least 10-15 years. Peter Weber