By Steve Benen
NBC News confirmed the details over the weekend of an Oval Office discussion on Friday in which Donald Trump “furiously blasted senior staff.” The president was apparently furious over Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself in the Russia probe just one day after Trump said he shouldn’t.
The Washington Post had a similar report overnight, noting that Trump summoned his senior aides on Friday morning for a meeting in which he “simmered with rage.” The president wanted Sessions to ignore the pressure, “fighting with the full defenses of the White House.”
The piece added, “As reporters began to hear about the Oval Office meeting, [White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus] interrupted his Friday afternoon schedule to dedicate more than an hour to calling reporters off the record to deny that the outburst had actually happened.”
Oh. In other words, Priebus spent more than an hour lying to reporters.
The Post’s report, which was “based on interviews with 17 top White House officials, members of Congress and friends of the president,” painted a severely unflattering portrait of a flailing, embattled president, who’s increasingly resentful, bitter, and “steaming, raging mad,” overseeing an administration that remains “in a perpetual state of chaos.”
This, however, was the anecdote that stood out most for me.
Trouble for Trump continued to spiral over the weekend. Early Saturday, he surprised his staff by firing off four tweets accusing Obama of a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap his Trump Tower phones in the run-up to last fall’s election. Trump cited no evidence, and Obama’s spokesman denied any such wiretap was ordered.
That night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had dinner with Sessions, Bannon, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, among others. They tried to put Trump in a better mood by going over their implementation plans for the travel ban, according to a White House official.
We’re learning quite a bit about how the president’s aides try to placate him – and what it takes to cheer Trump up when he’s feeling blue.
Trump was brighter Sunday morning as he read several newspapers, pleased that his allegations against Obama were the dominant story, the official said.
He’s reportedly pleased when the political world focuses on a ridiculous conspiracy theory he apparently got from a right-wing website – a story that really doesn’t do him any favors – and when officials talk to him about executing the Muslim ban he proposed as a candidate.
Those with concerns about Trump’s emotional state will have to look elsewhere for reassurances.