What’s going on behind closed doors, according to some.
As Donald Trump approaches the 100-day mark of his turbulent first term, top White House officials describe an executive branch still in near-constant turmoil and riven by infighting, with staffers unable to agree on such basic protocol as whether to turn off the “motion smoothing” effect on office televisions.
As major posts remain unfilled, tensions between two warring West Wing blocs have escalated so dramatically that President Trump recently called an all-hands meeting to address the problem, then ranted for ten minutes about the time Liberace snubbed him at an Esquire party in 1982. The factions left the meeting no closer to resolving their deep-seated differences.
This story is based on interviews with 183 sources, 172 of whom requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Top-ranking officials say the administration is increasingly divided between those who actively want to destroy the world (nicknamed “The Scary Ones” by their adversaries), and nihilists who pretend for appearance’s sake to care about anything beyond their own net worth (dubbed “The Kikes” by opponents, though several sources said this was not meant in an anti-Semitic way).
Tensions have mounted in recent weeks as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have tried to nudge President Trump in a more moderate direction.
“Jared and Ivanka are good,” said two anonymous sources who had recently returned from a ski trip to Whistler. “Jared is a dynamic businessman who wants what’s best for America, while Ivanka cares deeply about climate change and women. Print that.”
In private conversations, Ivanka has been vocal in pushing the president to consider some of her feminist policy ideas: for instance, she wants the federal government to provide coat hangers to women who might no longer have access to abortion services under her father’s budget. It’s unclear whether he will greenlight her progressive proposal, but sources say she’s merely happy to be part of the dialogue.
Kushner, meanwhile, has assumed even more responsibility than previously reported, expanding his portfolio within the administration to abstract concepts such as “space” and “time.”
“He’s smart,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Really smart.” One source said that Kushner had recently completed a particularly difficult equation on a blackboard in a hallway at NASA headquarters, though 46 other sources dispute that account.
Though the so-called “Kikes” might be ascendant for now, dozens of sources said it was too early to count out reactionary, populist firebrands like Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, who, several maintain, has never been to England despite speaking with a British accent.
“Kushner, Ivanka, Gary Cohn, Dina Miller — these people are nothing but globalist, cosmopolitan international banker types with ties to the Rothschilds, but I’m not anti-Semitic,” said one rumpled-sounding member of this faction, who spoke from a moving train he had just hopped. “They still don’t get why Trump won.”
Nevertheless, controversial proposals generated by “The Scary Ones,” such as an idea to publicly burn undocumented immigrants on a pyre using the text of the Paris Climate Agreement as kindling, are on hold for now.
Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, whom Trump sees as essential to his agenda, has been quietly asserting his power in subtle but unmistakable ways. Sources say that during the fiery debate over motion smoothing — the eventual verdict was to leave it on — Miller grabbed a pretzel out of a bag of Chex Mix on the table, knowing this was National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s favorite snack. But when McMaster followed suit, President Trump chided him, saying, “maybe cool it with the pretzels, H.R.?”
“That was a clear sign of dominance by Miller,” said one aide. “The guy’s definitely an alpha.”
Whether such backbiting will subside and cohere into a more stable working dynamic is an open question. Some believe the president merely needs more time to find his footing.
“Trump’s a businessman,” said Newt Gingrich. “You can run a business chaotically, but in the White House, blah blah…it’s different than a business, blah blah…”
“I guess my quote goes here,” said political provocateur Roger Stone.
With the health care debacle still fresh in voters’ minds and a win on tax reform looking less likely by the day, it’s clear that the president could use a win.
One high-ranking official put it this way: “Look, a lot of people are saying ‘Donald this, Donald that…’ you can’t trust these people, ok? You can’t trust these people. Because the president won the electoral college by the biggest margin in 160 years, ok? Ok? And now what, you have Rosie O’Donnell, who’s still attacking me? It’s disgusting, folks. Disgusting.”
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