‘Unfit and incapable’: Donald Trump at the White House. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
A report in Vanity Fair magazine, citing two sources, claimed Donald Trump had vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!”
The journalist Gabriel Sherman also wrote that several people close to the president told him that Trump was unstable, “losing a step” and unraveling. Such concerns appear to be reaching a critical mass. NBC News reported that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a moron. The president insisted the story was false, but challenged Tillerson to an IQ contest.
Then Senator Bob Corker became one of the few Republicans on Capitol Hill to openly denounce Trump, though it is widely suspected that he speaks for many colleagues. During a Twitter clash last Sunday, Corker wrote: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
In an interview with the New York Times, the senator from Tennessee said: “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him … He doesn’t realise that we could be heading towards world war three with the kind of comments that he’s making.”
He also told the Washington Post on Friday that Trump had “castrated” Tillerson with remarks about his attempts to talk to North Korea.
Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who was the top fundraiser for Trump’s election campaign, said he has been shocked and stunned by some of the president’s incendiary rhetoric and tweets.
“He thinks he has to be loyal to his base,” Barrack told the Washington Post. “I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.”
If anyone can get through to Trump, it may be Barrack, one of his oldest friends. Rich Galen, a Republican strategist, said: “That got everybody’s attention because he’s buddy and spoke at the Republican convention. So there seems to be some change. That’s part of what’s feeding it.”
McMullin agreed that Trump seemed rattled by the recent criticisms from Tillerson, Corker and Barrack. “He probably understands their remarks represent a new stage of acceptance setting in across the country, even among his supporters, that he is unfit and incapable.
“That, I think, is inspiring his accelerated efforts to throw red meat to his base to shore up their support. I expect that to continue, if not intensify, and to result in increasing political challenges for the GOP as 2017 and 2018 elections approach and in years to come.”
Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and independent presidential candidate, wrote via email to The Guardian: “I think the president’s actions on healthcare and Iran are the latest examples of his standing political strategy, which is to throw red meat to his base in order to maintain his base, as evidence of his unfitness and inability to govern mounts.
“If anything, his use of this tactic seems to be accelerating as it becomes increasingly clear, even to some of his closest friends and political allies, that he is failing.”
Read the complete article in The Guardian newspaper online.