This morning I phoned my friend, the former Republican member of Congress.
ME: So, what are you hearing?
HE: Trump is in deep sh*t.Meanwhile The New York Times' Peter Barker and Maggie Haberman write that Trump is holed up in the White House feeling abandoned by everyone.
ME: Tell me more.
HE: When it looked like he was backing down on the wall, Rush and the crazies on Fox went ballistic. So he has to do the shutdown to keep the base happy. They’re his insurance policy. They stand between him and impeachment.
ME: Impeachment? No chance. Senate Republicans would never go along.
HE (laughing): Don’t be so sure. Corporate and Wall Street are up in arms. Trade war was bad enough. Now, you’ve got Mattis resigning in protest. Trump pulling out of Syria, giving Putin a huge win. This dumbass shutdown. The stock market in free-fall. The economy heading for recession.
ME: But the base loves him.
HE: Yeah, but the base doesn’t pay the bills.
ME: You mean …
HE: Follow the money, friend.
ME: The GOP’s backers have had enough?
HE: They wanted Pence all along.
ME: So …
HE: So they’ll wait until Mueller’s report, which will skewer Trump. Pelosi will wait, too. Then after the Mueller bombshell, she’ll get 20, 30, maybe even 40 Republicans to join in an impeachment resolution.
ME: And then?
HE: Senate Republicans hope that’ll be enough – that Trump will pull a Nixon.
ME: So you think he’ll resign?
HE (laughing): No chance. He’s fu*king out of his mind. He’ll rile up his base into a fever. Rallies around the country. Tweet storms. Hannity. Oh, it’s gonna be ugly. He’ll convince himself he’ll survive.
ME: And then?
HE: That’s when Senate Republicans pull the trigger.
ME: Really? Two-thirds of the Senate?
HE: Do the math. 47 Dems will be on board, so you need 19 Republicans. I can name almost that many who are already there. Won’t be hard to find the votes.
ME: But it will take months. And the country will be put through a ringer.
HE: I know. That’s the worst part.
ME: I mean, we could have civil war.
HE: Hell, no. That’s what he wants, but no chance. His approvals will be in the cellar. America will be glad to get rid of him.
ME: I hope you’re right.
HE: He’s a dangerous menace. He’ll be gone. And then he’ll be indicted, and Pence will pardon him. But the state investigations may put him in the clinker. Good riddance.
For two years, Mr. Trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. Angry that they resist his wishes, uninterested in the details of their briefings, he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he does not have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him.
Now, the president who once declared that “I alone can fix” the system increasingly stands alone in a system that seems as broken as ever. The swirl of recent days — a government shutdown, spiraling scandals, tumbling stock markets, abrupt troop withdrawals and the resignation of his alienated defense secretary — has left the impression of a presidency at risk of spinning out of control.
At the midpoint of his term, Mr. Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office. He spends ever more time in front of a television, often retreating to his residence out of concern that he is being watched too closely. As he sheds advisers at a head-spinning rate, he reaches out to old associates, complaining that few of the people around him were there at the beginning.
Mr. Trump is said by advisers to be consumed by the multiplying investigations that have taken down his personal lawyer, campaign chairman, national security adviser and family foundation. He rails against enemies, who often were once friends, nursing a deep sense of betrayal and grievance as they turn on him.
...The portrait that emerges from interviews with about 30 current and former administration officials, personal friends, political allies, lawmakers and congressional aides suggests a president who revels in sharp swings in direction, feels free to disregard historic allies and presides over near constant turmoil within his own team as he follows his own instincts.
...Always impulsive, the president increasingly believes he does not need advisers, according to people close to him. He is on his third chief of staff, third national security adviser, sixth communications director, second secretary of state, second attorney general and soon his second defense secretary. Turnover at the top has reached 65 percent, according to the Brookings Institution.
...More recently, the president has told associates he feels “totally and completely abandoned,” as one put it, complaining that no one is on his side and that many around him have ulterior motives. That extends even to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was credited for helping push through the criminal justice bill, praise that Mr. Trump took note of.
Longtime associates said Mr. Trump’s relationship with his children has grown more removed and that he feels he does not have a friend in the White House. He disagrees with Mr. Kushner and Ivanka Trump much of the time, but cannot bring himself to tell them no, leaving that instead to Mr. Kelly, according to former aides. That made Mr. Kelly the heavy, they said, and therefore the target of their ire until he was finally forced out.
... By all accounts, Mr. Trump’s consumption of cable television has actually increased in recent months as his first scheduled meetings of the day have slid back from the 9 or 9:30 a.m. set by Reince Priebus, his first chief of staff, to roughly 11 many mornings. During “executive time,” Mr. Trump watches television in the residence for hours, reacting to what he sees on Fox News. While in the West Wing, he leaves it on during most meetings in the dining room off the Oval Office, one ear attuned to what is being said.If you've stuck it out this far, I would like to give you a little Christmas gift. Here's Kim Jong Il as Donald J. Trump: