President Donald Trump increasingly feels like it’s him against the world. And he has fewer and fewer people at his side who he can trust. In a devastating New York Times piece, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman write that the commander in chief is increasingly feeling isolated and paranoid. As a result, he is retreating to spending time alone, which means he is watching more television than ever. What has euphemistically long been known as “executive time” is lasting longer. Whereas Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, used to make a point of forcing him to have his first meetings at 9 or 9:30 a.m., that has now slid back “to roughly 11 many mornings.” The commander in chief doesn’t just watch television in the residence for hours though, he also leaves Fox News on while in the West Wing so he can always keep track of what is being said about him.
Trump has been telling his associates that he feels “totally and completely abandoned,” as one source put it. And that feeling seems to extend to his family. The president’s relationship with his kids has grown more distant as the time in the White House has increased. Even though he disagrees with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner “much of the time,” he can’t say no to them so leaves it to others. As the president is getting increasingly paranoid that those around him have ulterior motives, that feeling has also extended to his son-in-law, who recently received lots of praise for helping to pass the criminal justice bill.
Others don’t quite see it that way though. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker notes that “Trump’s family members are ascendant” as the commander in chief keeps bleeding advisers. Kushner in particular has become an “increasingly influential interlocutor with foreign governments.” The president is relying more on his family at a time when many of the veteran advisers who saw it as part of their job to contain Trump’s worst instincts have resigned or been fired. “Trump will enter his third year as president unbound,” writes Rucker, “at war with his perceived enemies, determined to follow through on the hard-line promises of his insurgent campaign and fearful of any cleavage in his political coalition.”