Trump complicit with Scaramucci attacks on Kelly

President Donald Trump publicly derided ...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 7:11 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 7:11 PM

President Donald Trump publicly derided reports Tuesday that chaos is engulfing the West Wing, but in private, the man who thrives on discord seems to be sowing some of it himself.

The President has emboldened Anthony Scaramucci, the boisterous former communications director who was fired after just 10 days, to continue attacking White House chief of staff John Kelly during his cable news appearances, a source familiar with the situation told CNN.

In multiple television segments, Scaramucci has faulted Kelly for the "terrible morale" in the West Wing, at times referring to him as "General Jackass" and suggesting he apologize for his handling of the Rob Porter resignation. According to this source, the President is aware of Scaramucci's criticisms and has not discouraged him from making them. Sources familiar with his thinking say Scaramucci is frustrated with Kelly because he has limited the former communications director's White House access.

"I like conflict. I like having two people with two points of view," Trump said Tuesday when asked about internal strife during a news conference. "I like watching it, I like seeing it."

The outside attacks come amid days of discord inside the White House, underscored Tuesday evening by the departure of Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser. The President heralded Cohn as "a rare talent" in a statement announcing his departure, but his ouster comes in the midst of a fractious debate inside the White House over imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Trump opted to go with tariffs over opposition from Cohn.

The departure follows a grueling week inside the West Wing where Trump fumed at coverage of his White House that focused on his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner's stuggle to earn a full security clearance and the fact that Hope Hicks, his longtime communications adviser and close confidante, is leaving the White House.

According to conversations with a dozen Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, little has happened to change the feeling of malaise that has settled into the West Wing. Morale, many of these advisers said, remains low, with few signs of turning around.

The White House did not respond to a CNN request for comment.

'Great energy'

Trump insisted on Tuesday that Chis White House has "great energy" and was not in a state of chaos.

"The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House," Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. "Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision."

At the same time, though, Trump also signaled there may be more resignations to come.

"I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection)," he said. "There is no Chaos, only great Energy!"

But the sentiment the President expressed on Twitter differs from how his own staff describes the state of the West Wing. According to several sources inside and outside of the White House, the atmosphere is more disruptive than it has been in months and the morale is so low it mirrors the early days of the administration.

Beyond Cohn, in the last week, Hicks, one of his longest-serving aides, announced she was also leaving. Trump, meanwhile, had to deny reports that national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster was on his way out.

Trump even joked about future departures in his upbeat and self-deprecating remarks on Saturday at the Gridiron Dinner, a tony event that brings journalists and politicians together for bipartisan ribbing.

"So many people have been leaving the White House," Trump said. "It's actually been really exciting and invigorating because you want new thought. So, I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Now the question everyone keeps asking is, 'Who is going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?' "

Mild heartburn

Trump's admission on Tuesday that he is still looking to ouster administration officials has caused mild heartburn inside the White House, according to sources inside the West Wing, who speculate that the constant talk of ousters contributes to the overriding feel of unease that permeates the building.

Trump, during a bilateral news conference with the prime minister of Sweden, admitted that he enjoys watching his aides clash. Standing before a group of people that did not include Cohn, who was not present, Trump cast his White House as a place where his advisers fight about ideas and then he decides who to back.

"I certainly have that," Trump said of a White House full of conflict. "And then I make a decision. But I like watching it."

The President later claimed that there is a long list of people eager to step into the administration after people leave, a claim that is not backed up by the sizable group of Republican operatives who have declined to join the White House staff.

One recent flashpoint in that chaos was evidenced by the President's decision to announce sizable tariffs on steel and aluminum at the end of a meeting with executives at the White House. The announcement came before Trump's lawyers had finished writing the new tariffs, setting off days of backroom jockeying between the pro-tariff and anti-tariff factions of the White House.

It also rankled Republicans on Capitol Hill, many of whom have come out against the decision as bad for business and American consumers.

At the center of that debate is Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, an outspoken proponent of tariffs, and Cohn, an adamant free trade supporter.

Navarro, who has told Trump that the impacts of the tariffs would be minimal, currently has the upper hand with the President and has convinced him that making good on his 2016 campaign promises on trade would win his praise from the people who helped vault him to the White House.

Cohn's role

Trump's decision left Cohn marginalized, sources told CNN. The economic adviser tried to turn the tables on Navarro by organizing meetings and calls between Trump and business leaders who oppose the new trade actions. Cohn had hoped Trump would meet with representatives from the auto and bottling industries to fully explain the effect of steel and aluminum tariffs, according to a person familiar with the plan.

Trump was surprised to learn that Cohn was working to arrange a meeting with representatives from the auto and bottling industries in an effort to demonstrate the effects the steel and aluminum tariffs would have, a person familiar with the situation said.

The President has said he's not interested in such a meeting and has grown angry at what he sees as attempts to deter him from the plan.

Even before he departed it was clear his standing in the White House was waning.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said Tuesday that Cohn, while right, doesn't seem to have much sway on Trump.

"It doesn't seem as if his opinions are holding sway," Flake said. "This is one that the President just keeps coming back to."

And Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing and a former member of Trump's manufacturing council, said Tuesday that Cohn clearly tried to be the last person in Trump's ear before he makes a decision on tariffs.

The problem with that strategy, Paul said, is that Trump is scheduled to headline a campaign rally for Rick Saccone, the Republican House candidate running to represent the Pittsburgh suburbs, on Saturday. Saccone, who running in a special election against Democrat Conor Lamb, has backed Trump's decision to impose steel tariffs.

"The last meeting he is going to have is the with voters in Western Pennsylvania," Paul said. "And I know how they feel about this issue."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1007681

Reported Deaths: 16470
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1355212121
Lake664101166
Allen57993801
Hamilton46350465
St. Joseph44397615
Elkhart35949510
Vanderburgh32251480
Tippecanoe27933260
Johnson25107445
Hendricks23897359
Porter22929365
Madison18748409
Clark18557252
Vigo17479303
Monroe15263200
LaPorte15173250
Delaware15073263
Howard14748290
Kosciusko12348148
Hancock11728176
Bartholomew11639180
Warrick11292189
Floyd11108215
Wayne10986253
Grant10082220
Morgan9472176
Boone8926115
Dubois8271131
Henry8229152
Dearborn822393
Noble8031106
Marshall7939135
Cass7546121
Lawrence7457171
Shelby7189119
Jackson698289
Gibson6597115
Harrison649192
Knox6421106
Huntington6395100
DeKalb632399
Montgomery6264111
Miami593398
Putnam581278
Clinton576171
Whitley565755
Steuben562576
Wabash5332104
Jasper532079
Jefferson511297
Ripley500586
Adams482576
Daviess4677114
Scott438974
Greene425196
Wells424888
Clay423360
White418764
Decatur4169102
Fayette406587
Jennings387361
Posey376644
Washington359151
LaGrange359078
Randolph3452100
Spencer340243
Fountain335760
Sullivan329452
Starke317171
Owen314771
Fulton312667
Orange293664
Jay284645
Franklin265643
Perry265452
Rush262432
Carroll261934
Vermillion258654
Parke231426
Pike229243
Tipton228159
Blackford193142
Pulaski183757
Crawford159823
Newton158348
Benton150617
Brown146747
Martin138719
Switzerland135011
Warren121116
Union107016
Ohio84613
Unassigned0540

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1515838

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1640131696
Cuyahoga1460532459
Hamilton1052061431
Montgomery738951279
Summit616491111
Lucas56212917
Butler51500718
Stark465771064
Lorain35525585
Warren32769377
Mahoning30719693
Clermont28151330
Lake26979448
Delaware24159164
Licking23882294
Trumbull22825561
Fairfield22354247
Greene22289326
Medina22002313
Clark19812354
Richland18559292
Portage17924252
Wood17427224
Allen15967279
Miami15524306
Muskingum14789185
Columbiana14017274
Wayne13755271
Tuscarawas12692311
Marion11957180
Scioto11452162
Pickaway11356142
Erie10867184
Ross10555203
Lawrence9746153
Ashtabula9701204
Hancock9687155
Belmont9287209
Geauga8933157
Jefferson8547199
Huron8380143
Union818859
Washington8085144
Sandusky7807151
Athens776179
Knox7705144
Darke7643158
Seneca7343145
Ashland6945130
Auglaize678699
Shelby6516115
Brown635291
Crawford6261130
Defiance6192105
Mercer614593
Fulton601296
Highland599399
Madison593978
Guernsey589771
Logan587996
Clinton582993
Preble5710125
Putnam5323110
Williams528088
Perry517363
Champaign511573
Jackson508573
Ottawa486286
Coshocton482283
Morrow458158
Pike433467
Fayette428263
Hardin418080
Gallia417267
Adams416695
Van Wert370882
Henry364072
Holmes3624125
Hocking356482
Wyandot322962
Carroll301765
Paulding279447
Meigs264651
Monroe215554
Noble199747
Morgan193933
Harrison181446
Vinton165525
Unassigned05
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