In this May 12, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks to military mothers in the East Room of the White House during Mother’s Day celebration. Four months into office, Trump has become distrustful of some of his White House staff, heavily reliant on a handful of family members and longtime aides, and furious that the White House’s attempts to quell the firestorm over the FBI and congressional Russia investigations only seem to add more fuel. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON (AP) — After four months in office, President Donald Trump has become distrustful of some of his White House staff, heavily reliant on a handful of family members and longtime aides, and furious that the White House’s attempts to quell the firestorm over the FBI and congressional Russia investigations only seem to add more fuel.
Trump’s frustrations came to a head this week with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the probe into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia’s election meddling. Fearful that his own team would leak the decision, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pondered the dramatic move.
The communications staff charged with explaining the decision to the American people had an hour’s notice. Chief strategist Steve Bannon learned on television, according to three White House officials, though a person close to Bannon disputed that characterization.
When the White House’s defense of the move failed to meet his ever-changing expectations, Trump tried to take over himself. But he wound up creating new headaches for the White House, including with an apparent threat to Comey.
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
For a White House accustomed to bouts of chaos, Trump’s handling of Comey’s firing could have serious and long-lasting implications. Already Trump’s decision appears to have emboldened the Senate intelligence committee investigating into Russia’s election interference and the president’s associates, with lawmakers announcing a subpoena for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey’s allies also quickly made clear they would defend him against attacks from Trump, including disputing the president’s assertion that Comey told Trump he was not personally under investigation. [/restrict]