A Republican senator this week told a New York Times reporter that Donald Trump is “consumed” with the Russia scandal. And given the latest revelations, there’s every reason to believe the president’s preoccupation has affected his judgment.
Following up on yesterday’s coverage, we now know Trump has clashed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions because the president expected the nation’s chief law-enforcement official to shield the White House from the investigation into the Russia scandal. Trump has clashed with former FBI Director James Comey – whom Trump ultimately fired – because the president wanted Comey to give him a hand with the same probe. He clashed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell because the president expected the senator to “protect him” from committee investigations.And as Rachel noted on last night’s show, Trump has even clashed with rank-and-file Senate Republicans over the same issue. Politico reported:
President Donald Trump privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations. […]
Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that it wasn’t good policy, according to three people familiar with the call…. Trump dialed up Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Aug. 7, two days before a blunt call with the Senate majority leader that spilled over into a public feud. Tillis is working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on a bill designed to protect Robert Mueller, the independent counsel investigating the president’s Russia connections, from any attempt by Trump to fire him.
Politico quoted one senior GOP aide saying, “It seems he is just always focused on Russia.”
As interesting as the behind-the-scenes insights from Capitol Hill is the fact that quite a few congressional Republicans are apparently comfortable sharing this information with reporters.
Nevertheless, it seems painfully obvious that the Russia scandal has left Trump feeling very nervous.
As The New Republic’s Clio Chang explained yesterday, following the report on Trump’s furious conversation with McConnell, “Even when health care reform – a major campaign promise – was crumbling before his very eyes, Russia was at the top of Trump’s mind. His legislative failures and policy blunders have been embarrassments, his support of neo-Nazis and Klansmen has caused headaches, but the only problem he consistently treats with deathly seriousness is the Russia investigation. Only Trump knows how bad it might be, and apparently he thinks it’s pretty bad.”
And it may soon get quite a bit worse. I trust you saw last night’s A block on the Steele dossier?