The White House Is Not a Good Place To Be Right Now

20th Century Fox

The White House is a seething cauldron of intrigue and backstabbing. Here’s the New York Times:

Circular firing squad….blaming one another for the decisions of the last few days….[Trump] trained his ire on Marc E. Kasowitz, his longtime lawyer….[Kasowitz] complained that Mr. Kushner has been whispering in the president’s ear about the Russia investigations….mulling a staff change….zeroed in on the chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Ah, Priebus is in trouble again. Poor guy. Every time there’s trouble in the White House, sources start leaking that Priebus is about to be fired. The Washington Post elaborates:

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser; Jared Kushner, her husband and another senior adviser; and first lady Melania Trump have been privately pressing the president to shake up his team — most specifically by replacing Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff, according to two senior White House officials and one ally close to the White House.

Priebus has survived nearly monthly rumors that he was on the chopping block, but he’s still there. More Post:

President fumes against his enemies….senior aides circle one another with suspicion….President Trump…hidden from public view….enraged that the Russia cloud still hangs over his presidency….public relations disaster….infighting often seems like a core cultural value….have begun what could be an extensive campaign to try to discredit some of the journalists who have been reporting on the matter….research the reporters’ previous work, in some cases going back years.

The initial Times story about Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer was attributed to “three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting.” That’s an odd bit of sourcing. Not White House officials, but “advisers.” And these apparently weren’t people who had copies of Don Jr.’s email. They had merely been “briefed” about the meeting. But the meeting happened a year ago and they only leaked the story this week. So presumably they were briefed fairly recently.

Who would be briefed about this recently? It has to be a pretty small circle. Legal advisers? Outside legal advisers? Who else would need to be briefed about this? Intelligence sources? But those wouldn’t be “advisers to the White House.”

And then, a few days later, the Times gets a copy of the emails setting up the meeting. Who would have that? Not someone who was part of the email chain last year, since they’d have no reason to suddenly leak it now. Again, this seems more like someone on the legal team, or perhaps someone who does national security vetting.

But why would any of these folks have a grudge against either Don Jr. or Don Sr.? Curiouser and curiouser.

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THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

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