Yesterday’s and today’s headlines are understandably focused on the escalating war of words, and war of legal threats, between Donald Trump and his former top adviser Steve Bannon. Bannon is accusing Trump of “treasonous” activities. Trump is threatening to sue Bannon. Bannon is threatening to countersue. These two creeps deserve each other. But it’s drowning out a larger pattern over the past twenty-four hours which has seen Trump go to war against his own people in general.
It began today when White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, seemingly one of the few people left in the West Wing whom Trump trusts, announced that no one will be allowed to bring personal cellphones and other personal technology devices around anymore. This is an obvious belated reaction to the fact that Michael Wolff spent months wandering around the White House, using his own devices to record anything he wanted, only to turn it into a devastating insider book. So now Trump is punishing his own staffers by closing the barn door on them after the horse has left the stable. But this is just the beginning.
Trump already forced former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Katie Walsh out of a job once. Now that she’s also been quoted saying negative things about him and his administration in this new book, he’s trying to get her fired again, according to a Bloomberg report (link). She’s now working at a Republican Super PAC, which isn’t supposed to have any coordination with any politician or candidate. Yet multiple media outlets are reporting that Trump is indeed trying to get the Super PAC to fire Walsh, as punishment for her remarks in the book.
It’s worth noting that Donald Trump is skipping straight to punishing Katie Walsh, a woman, even though a number of his male advisers have said far worse things about him in this book. But Trump will probably circle around to Gary Cohn and the others next. He’s declaring war on his own people, because he cares more about personal grudges than he does about succeeding as president, or fending off his true adversaries.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report