The distrust and chaos in the White House is extending even to those who have played a key role in shaping President Donald Trump’s policies early in his administration.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Trump closely guarded his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey this week, keeping it even from key advisers and members of his communications staff. According to the report, chief strategist Steve Bannon learned about Comey’s firing on television. Communications staff had an hour’s notice.
“Fearful that his own team would leak the decision, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pondered the dramatic move,” the AP reported.
Then, as turmoil mounted from the move and from the bungled handling of White House communications over the firing, Trump tried to take on crisis management himself. That, of course, only made things worse and opened up the president to questions over possible obstruction of justice in the ongoing Russia probe.
Trump’s paranoia over potential leaks and the trustworthiness of his own advisers has him increasingly turning to a smaller group of people to carry out his wishes, including the use of his longtime personal bodyguard to carry out official White House business.
As the AP notes:
Several people close to the president say his reliance on a small cadre of advisers as he mulled firing Comey reflects his broader distrust of many of his own staffers. He leans heavily on daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Hope Hicks, his trusted campaign spokeswoman and Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard. Schiller was among those Trump consulted about Comey and was tapped by the president to deliver a letter informing the director of his firing.
The report also highlighted that Bannon increasingly has been marginalized on major administration decisions after fighting with Kushner. Of note is that neither Ivanka Trump nor Kushner have been publicly visible since all of this went down this week.