This is the week that we learned that there are a group of senior staffers within the White House and administration who are actively working to circumvent President Donald Trump's wishes under the belief that to do what he wants at all times would endanger national security.
Stop. Go back. Read that first sentence again.
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That's a remarkable thing. Even in an administration defined by its seeming unending capability to amaze and disrupt standard procedures of governance, the idea that there is an active effort among top aides to marginalize Trump stands out.
But it's where we are after a week in which the first look at Bob Woodward's "Fear: Trump in the White House" painted a picture of a President deeply out of his depth and out of the loop. And a week on which an anonymous Trump administration official penned a New York Times op-ed that detailed an effort "to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office."
Those accounts confirm reports from sources like Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Trump White House aide, and Michael Wolff in his best-selling "Fire and Fury." While the anecdotes might differ, the thrust of all of this reporting on Trump is the same: He is an isolated figure who frequently lashes out at a staff that views him with some combination of fear, loathing and ridicule.
Trump, as he so often does, compounded an already-difficult situation with his reaction to it. He suggested that the writer of the anonymous op-ed may have committed "TREASON?" He called Woodward an "idiot" and his book a "work of fiction" less than a month after he is heard on a recording made by Woodward praising the reporter as "very fair." He asked much-maligned Attorney General Jeff Sessions to open an investigation into the identity of the op-ed writer, although the legal grounds to do so are, well, nonexistent.
What everyone -- Trump's allies and his adversaries -- agree on is that his isolation, his paranoia and the direness of his current situation all ramped up this week. Trump appears to be absolutely fixated on finding the identity of the op-ed writer, but uninterested in addressing the very real concerns the piece raises. He is leaning in to an all-out assault against Woodward while offering little actual evidence that anything the famed political reporter has in his book is factually inaccurate. And he continues to lash out at the special counsel probe being led by Robert Mueller even as his lawyers continue to negotiate the possibility of a sit-down between the President and the former FBI director.
On top of all of that is the fact that the midterm elections are only 60 days away -- and all signs point to major Democratic gains in the House. And if Democrats take over the House, Trump's life is going to get A LOT more complicated in the second half of his term.
Trump spent the last part of the week doing what he enjoys most about the job of President: Delivering campaign speeches to adoring crowds in Republican-friendly areas. (He was in Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota on Thursday and Friday.) But staying within that adoration bubble won't change what faces him when he returns to Washington at the end of this week. And that is nothing good.
The Point: It's hard to pinpoint a worst week in what has been a presidency full of them. But the events of this week have to put it in the bottom five.
And now, the week that was in 28 headlines:
- Donald Trump's week from hell
- Trump's summer from hell
- Why the hell hasn't Donald Trump just fired Jeff Sessions?
- Donald Trump's absolutely disastrous week
- Graham: 'Hell to pay' if journalist killed
- Trump to Scalise: 'Hell of a way to lose weight'
- Donald Trump's biggest fear
- Donald Trump regrets nothing
- Donald Trump's victimhood complex