-
Thursday, February 27, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There are troubling signs in the news lately that the Trump administration is rapidly sinking into a quagmire of chaos, public bickering, bitter divisions and poisonous infighting.

Attorney General William P. Barr has threatened to quit because of President Trump’s public demands that he get rid of anyone in the Justice Department who was involved in the Russia investigation that threatened his presidency.


Earlier this month, Mr. Barr told people close to him that he is considering quitting his post after Trump wouldn’t heed his warning to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases, an administration official told the Associated Press.

“The revelation came days after Barr took a public swipe at the president, saying in a television interview that Trump’s tweets about Justice Department cases and staffers make it ‘impossible’ for him to do his job,” it was reported in the newspapers.

In another brewing, internal war, The Washington Post reported that “A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments,” The Post said.

That triggered a furious response from Mr. Trump who “grew angry at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing Maguire and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference,” the newspaper said.

That reportedly ruined Mr. Maguire’s chances of becoming Mr. Trump’s intelligence chief. Mr. Trump quickly announced that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with a loyalist, Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

But the shake-up didn’t end there. Mr. Trump has told his top aides “to identify and remove officials” throughout his administration “who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.”

But Mr. Trump’s outrage didn’t stop there. He reignited his battle with Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, charging that he had “leaked information from a classified briefing” that made what The Post described as a “veiled threat” at the man who led the House impeachment inquiry.

“Somebody please tell incompetent … corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to stop leaking Classified information or, even worse, made up information, to the Fake News Media,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

“Someday he will be caught, & that will be a very unpleasant experience,” the president added, according to The Post.

“Trump’s tweet comes more than a week after the intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, told members of Schiff’s committee during a bipartisan briefing that Russia has ‘developed a preference’ for Trump and views his administration as more favorable to its interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter,” The Post reported Monday.

Mr. Trump became enraged when he learned of Mr. Pierson’s remarks, and told another intelligence official that they were being “played,” a senior White House official told The Post.

Notably, Mr. Schiff “responded with a tweet in which he addressed” Mr. Trump directly, accusing him of “deflection” and telling him, “Your false claims fool no one.”

“You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020,” Mr. Schiff said. “Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it. You’ve betrayed America. Again.”

But Mr. Trump isn’t ceding any ground in his battle with Mr. Barr, demanding that he “clean house” at the Justice Department and “target those involved in the Russia investigation,” The Post reported last week.

And the president isn’t mincing words in attacking his own administration, including Mr. Barr and the people who work for him.

“The grievances shared by Trump in a flurry of morning tweets included claims of a ‘seditious conspiracy against him,’ and attacks on a ‘criminal gang’ at the FBI and the Justice Department,” The Post reported last week on its front page.

The question is how long will Mr. Barr keep his job?

• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.


Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.