2018-08-05 16:31:25 UTC
In private, President Trump spent much of the past week brooding, as he often
does. He has been anxious about the Russia investigations widening fallout,
with his former campaign chairman standing trial. And he has fretted that he is
failing to accrue enough political credit for what he claims as triumphs.
At rare moments of introspection for the famously self-centered president, Trump
has also expressed to confidants lingering unease about how some in his orbit
including his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. are ensnared in the Russia probe,
in his assessment simply because of their connection to him.
Yet in public, Trump is a man roaring. The president, more than ever, is
channeling his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance
and invective. He is churning out false statements with greater frequency and
attacking his perceived enemies with intensifying fury. A fresh broadside came
on Twitter at 11:37 p.m. Friday, mocking basketball superstar LeBron James and
calling CNNs Don Lemon the dumbest man on television.
This is the new, uneasy reality for Trump at an especially precarious moment of
his presidency, with the Republican Party struggling to keep control of
Congress, where a Democratic takeover brings with it the specter of
impeachment, and special counsel Robert S. Mueller IIIs grip seeming to
tighten on the president and his circle.
Trump, who has decamped to his New Jersey golf estate for an 11-day working
vacation, is at a critical juncture in the Russia investigation as he decides in
coming days whether to sit for an interview with Mueller or defy investigators
and risk being issued a subpoena.
Hes more definitive than ever: This investigation should end now, and Mueller
should put out what he has, said Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trumps personal
attorney. He doesnt think they have anything, and he wants the country to move
This portrait of Trump behind the scenes is based on interviews with 14
administration officials, presidential friends and outside advisers to the White
House, many of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity to share candid
Trump appeared to stand in conflict with his own government when he blasted the
Russian hoax just hours after his national security team gathered at the White
House on Thursday in a rare show of force to warn that Russia is yet again
trying to interfere in U.S. elections. But a White House spokesman said Trump
instructed them to hold the news conference and was adamant that they explain
what the administration is doing to safeguard the midterm elections.
The frequency of the presidents mistruths has picked up, as well. The
Washington Post Fact Checker found last week that Trump has now made 4,229 false
or misleading claims so far in his presidency an average of nearly 7.6 such
claims per day, and an increase of 978 in just two months.
The campaign trail where Trump held three mega-rallies in five days has
allowed him something of a respite, a chance for the
reality-TV-star-turned-president to repackage his anger as something more campy,
delivered with a showmans élan.