SEP 2, 2018: Increasingly convinced that the West Wing is wholly unprepared to handle the expected assault from Democrats if they win the House in November mid-term elections, President Donald Trump’s aides and allies are privately raising alarm as his circle of legal and communications advisers continues to shrink, the AP reports.
“With vacancies abounding in the White House and more departures on the horizon, there is growing concern among Trump allies that the brain drain at the center of the administration could hardly come at a more perilous time. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s swirling probe of Russian election interference and potential obstruction of justice by Trump has reached ever closer to the Oval Office, and the upcoming midterm elections could grant his political adversaries the power of subpoena or, more worryingly, the votes to attempt impeachment.”
Nine current and former White House staffers and administration allies are expressing concerns that the West Wing is simply unprepared for the potential troubles ahead. They spoke on the condition of anonymity over concerns about estranging colleagues.
Meanwhile, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times notes that Trump’s aides “say he is behaving as if he is cornered”.
The spate of frenetic tweets —many false or without evidence — underscores both “a confidence and desperation” on the part of the president,” tweeted Ashley PArker, White House reporter for Washington Post.
Attrition, job changes and firings have taken their toll across the White House, but their impact has been felt particularly in the communications and legal shops – two departments crucial to Trump staving off the looming threats. The upcoming departure of White House counsel Don McGahn has highlighted the challenges in an office that has shrunk by a third since last year.
McGahn’s deputy and chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, is also expected to leave soon after McGahn departs, two staffers said. Similarly, the White House press office is down to four press secretaries working on day-to-day White House matters, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the regional and Cabinet affairs media teams in the communications office have been hollowed out.
The staffing shortage and struggles to recruit top-flight talent have left the White House ill-prepared to handle the legal onslaught that may come when Mueller issues an expected report summarizing his findings and the flood of congressional investigations that could follow a Democratic takeover of the House.
Like other White House departments, the effort to fill jobs in communication and media affairs is also proving difficult. Qualified candidates are steering clear of the volatile West Wing, ignoring pleas from Shine and others to join the administration over fears to their reputation and even potential legal exposure, according to current and former officials and one candidate approached by the White House. Those people and others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations and conversations, according to AP.