Gabriel Sherman, the former New York Magazine journalist whose reporting helped topple former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, has published a wide-ranging piece in Vanity Fair where he says private grumblings of senior administration officials are spilling out into the open as Trump's behavior has grown more erractic, and that many of the administration's key players are close to a breaking point.
Sherman begins his piece by claiming that Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker’s infamous interview with the New York Times, where he reportedly fretted that Trump would start “World War III” and compared the White House to “adult daycare” represents an inflection point in the Trump presidency. The interview, Sherman claims, “brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”
Kelly is reportedly miserable, but is refusing to quit out of a sense of duty to try and keep Trump from making a disastrous decision like ordering a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea. According to Sherman's sources, Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do if Trump ordered a nuclear strike...
According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.
One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.
But perhaps the most alarming claim in Sherman’s report is that Steve Bannon believes Trump only has a 30% chance of finishing out his first term. And furthermore, the biggest threat to Trump’s presidency isn’t impeachment, but a provision of the twenty-fifth amendment that would allow his cabinet members to exercise emergency measures to remove him from office.
Even before Corker’s remarks, some West Wing advisers were worried that Trump’s behavior could cause the Cabinet to take extraordinary Constitutional measures to remove him from office. Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.
For what it’s worth, odds that Trump will be impeached before the end of his first term have been more or less steady around 35% for the past three months. Though PredictIt doesn’t have odds for whether the twenty fifth amendment will be invoked before the end of Trump’s first term.
If Breitbart's coverage is any indication, a rift between Trump and Bannon that erupted when the former supported the doomed candidacy of Republican Senator Luther Strange in a runoff primary vote against former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who won the primary and will likely go on to replace Strange as the senator holding AG Jeff Session's old seat.
But that doesn’t make Bannon’s remarks - if the report is accurate - any less disconcerting.