At a White House in crisis, Trump looks increasingly isolated

Trump's motorcade arrives at The White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump's motorcade arrives at The White House in Washington, D.C. after visiting Trump National Golf Club U.S., May 14, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson

May 20, 2017

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the Trump White House, it’s getting lonely at the top.

President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress are showing signs of going their own way, both on politics and policy, determined to salvage what they can of their agenda on healthcare and tax reform in the wake of one of the most difficult weeks of any American presidency.

At the same time, Trump’s failure to fill senior roles at federal agencies means he does not have a cadre of loyalists who can help rein in a bureaucracy that many in Trump’s orbit believe are out to leak information intended to damage the president. That has worsened the isolation of the White House in a city that relies on friends and allies to shake off a crisis.

The result is problems on multiple fronts: a government whose bonds with Congress, federal agencies and the public look increasingly fractured; an ambitious but stalled program of reforms; and a president whose low approval ratings threaten his party’s control of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump and his beleaguered staff, some White House aides told Reuters, feel besieged by a parade of negative stories and abandoned by fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill, as the furor over the firing of FBI Director James Comey and allegations that Trump tried to influence the probe into Russian meddling in last year’s election show little sign of abating.

Since Tuesday, when leaked excerpts of a purported memo by Comey detailing his conversations with Trump were made public, few Republicans beyond the White House have rushed to the airwaves to push back against suggestions that the president may have obstructed justice in asking Comey to end the probe into the conduct of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

As the Russia probe entered a new phase on Wednesday with the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in the investigation, a move that will likely place the White House under even stronger scrutiny, some Republicans expressed surprise that the White House had not done more to recruit them to backstop the president.

“It’s kind of funny. The answer is no,” said Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, when asked by Reuters whether the White House had reached out to him to come to Trump’s defense. “I don’t know anyone else that has been contacted.”

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Trump left on Friday for his first foreign trip as president. The 10-day trip will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe.

STAFF VACANCIES

    The administration has continued to struggle to fill the hundreds of open positions at senior levels of government that remain open, leaving the White House alone to grapple with one challenge after another.

For example, the Justice Department still lacks senior officials in place to head up the anti-trust, civil rights, criminal, and civil divisions, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to its website.

At the Department of Homeland Security, the chiefs of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Transportation Security Administration, have yet to be confirmed.

And at the Department of Education, a sprawling bureaucracy of 4,400 employees with a $68 billion budget, “all the key roles except for the secretary remain empty or filled with people in an acting capacity,” said a Department of Education official.

“Nobody knows when or if they will be filled anytime soon,” said the official, who declined to be identified by name. The department did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has frequently complained that Senate Democrats have stalled the approval process for his nominees. But the White House has also been slower to send nominees to the Senate than previous administrations.

Many top State Department posts also remain vacant. One consequence, say several officials, is that department experts played little role in briefing Trump for his telephone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin or his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, where officials say he disclosed highly classified intelligence.

State Department and intelligence officials say that as power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few Trump loyalists in the White House, the roles of professional Foreign Service, intelligence and civil service officers have shrunk compared to past administrations.

For instance, said two U.S. diplomats, no one from the State Department attended Trump’s Feb. 15 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – a sharp contrast from past administrations which would typically staff such a high-profile meeting with high-level State Department officials.

Asked for comment, the State Department would not address the circumstances of the meeting with the Russian officials in the Oval Office, but did speak to the efforts involving Netanyahu and the Middle East.

“As the president has repeatedly noted, Middle East peace is a top priority for this administration,” a department spokesperson said. “This is an effort supported by both the White House and the State Department. Claims that the State Department has not been involved have no basis in facts.” 

Overall, more than 500 of the 557 federal government positions requiring Senate confirmation remain vacant. Only 33 nominees have been confirmed, and only 57 other positions now have a nominee, according to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Washington.

    CAPITOL HILL FRUSTRATIONS

    A lack of communication from the White House left many Republicans on Capitol Hill frustrated as a sense of crisis mushroomed over the past week. One, Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own Russia probe, publicly complained about the situation.

Tuesday morning, after news broke the previous evening that Trump had shared classified information with Russian officials, Burr said he couldn’t get through to the White House, as the story lit up television news programs and buzzed online.

“Maybe they’re busy,” he said.

Some Republicans said the constant focus on responding to allegations concerning the Russia probe was draining their caucus of focus and energy to push through their agenda.

Absent guidance, Republican staff members in Congress were beginning to devise their own strategy about how to respond to the gusher of bad news, one aide told Reuters.

And at the White House, with lines of communication to Congress seemingly frayed at times, a narrowing circle of people has come to the president’s defense, as senior staff grapple not only with the cascade of revelations but with a president who at times contradicts on Twitter their talking points.

“Everyone is just tired,” said one White House aide.

(Additional reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Timothy Gardner, Julia Harte, Steve Holland, Jeff Mason, Arshad Mohammed, David Morgan, and John Walcott; Editing by Jason Szep and Ross Colvin)

  • VM – USexitUN

    I know of no Trump supporters/voters who are buying into all this rhetoric. The media, the Dimms and the RINOs have been against DJT since the beginning and anyone claiming to have dropped their support for the POTUS was never truly on board.

  • Redhands

    If Comey’s allegations Trump tried to influence the probe into Russian meddling, why did he wait to report that? Doesn’t that make Comey, guilty?
    We know Comey, messed up the Clinton criminal investigation, he admitted there was plenty of guilt, but publicly stated no “reasonable” prosecutor would bring such a case.
    FBI does not normally make public, its recommendations to prosecutors as to whether to bring criminal charges.
    A textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do

  • Dens

    President Trump’s “fellow Republicans” particularly those who are working with the ‘news’ media and their Democratic Party henchmen to try to overthrow our President are going to “go their own way” alright. That way will be the ‘highway’ come time for their re-election.

  • No Mas

    The deep state democommunists, radical islamist, and the RINOs MUS BE REMOVED from D.C. to return America to AMERICANS!

  • J Brown

    In only 4 months he has been expected fill 5000 jobs, to fulfill all his promises and do the daily work of being president, while at the same time being “bashed” all day on the media. He is not a miracle worker!

  • Janet Foley

    Your reporting is as negative toward the Trump administration as the liberal media! You have a few positive and true reporters but I really am disappointed regarding your Fair and Balanced reporting…..like FOX NEWS did at one time.

  • Warpaint

    The left just doesn’t get the idea that we middle class wage slaves Americans ALWAYS backs the underdog, and despises bullies, the more you attack the underdog the more middle class dig their heels in to support them. And the “educated” left wingers can not grasp a simple concept such as loyalty and empathy.

  • old409

    I’ve been a Republican supporter most of my life but that will soon end as I change my registration to unaffiliated. I refuse to support a bunch of faux Conservatives. This Republican controlled Congress has been B.S. ing us for years. Give us the House and we will stop the Obama Agenda. They didn’t. Give us the House and the Senate and we will stop the Obama Agenda. We did ,,, they didn’t.

    Obama and Hillary used our Laws and our Constitution as toilet paper and no so much of a whimper from the Republican controlled Congress. As soon as the Democrats start peeing and moaning about an anoymous charge of Trump/Russia collusion ,they appoint a special prosecutor to investigate their own POTUS.

    Our Republican controlled Congress is now too wrapped in Media Masturbation with the Liberal Media to govern in the least little bit.

  • YaPiDo

    FAKE NEWS: “At A White House In Crisis, Trump Looks Increasingly Isolated”

  • Beaula

    Trash piece…………..OAN you should know better than to post dribble!

  • Tim

    You will find Trump will come out on top. These hack jobs continue their onslaught, and Trump continues to mount victories .

  • CW Cressler

    So the guy who ran “as a joke”– as seen in the innumerably-repeated-on-every-MSM-outlet video clip– then battled and beat EVERY Republican contender while previous contenders referred to him as a “con man” and formed a “Never Trump” Coalition, then survived deliberate (and probably illegal) leaks of private conversations and information from virtually every news outlet while being castigated daily in every major newspaper and by every major and minor celebrity, who then severely kicked the butt of a Number One Contender who outspent him by AT LEAST two-to-one and has been pushing for the Presidency for at least two decades, and who then assumed the Presidency following months of derision, denial, and what in any other Presidency would have been considered treason, and now has faced more months of betrayal by Deep State opponents– which could also be considered treason– while unproven allegations asserted by political opponents are treated as fact after over TEN MONTHS of investigation without finding a single piece of evidence, you’re saying THAT GUY “now looks increasingly isolated”? Are you blind, ignorant, or simply stupid? The only people this President can count on are the people who voted for him. Fortunately, THIS TIME, that was enough. Next time, it better be.

  • jonbatt

    Better isolated than surrounded by communist garbage

  • Susan Nicola

    A very liberal spin on whats happening in the White House….my disappointment in OANN to allow it👎

  • andrew moore

    Hey James….Nice thing about having our presidents back is that the US military trained me how to protect it……sure you want some of this?

  • dan Lindsey

    61 million supporters ans growing ever day is not exactly being isolated.

  • CCTexas

    Is Reuters staffed by ding-bats? Trump is not isolated, he is in the midst of a insurgency, true. Reuters seems to be on the insurgents side.

  • Scott

    DC needs an enema. Simple. Replace them while he is globe trotting. Let him come home to a brand new crew.

  • Bill McNeil Sr.

    Trump is isolated from the Left and the Washington elite Republicans. Not such a big deal because he is not isolated from the American people.

    • Trumpkin

      Right on bro! That’s why I voted for him and why the MSM will not leave him alone. We are not dealing with flesh here, we are dealing with the evil principalities. Loved your comment.

    • All American

      The last refuge. https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2017/05/21/it-took-a-non-politician/
      “It’s amazing what can be achieved when there’s no political agenda.
      Pretty darned refreshing.
      It took a non-politician to deliver true transactional transparency.
      Thank you to those who voted for President Donald Trump.”

  • Dan Taylor

    Total support Mr. President, 100%…

  • Dan Taylor

    Mr. Oliphant, do you consider yourself to actually be a journalist? Doesn’t look like it here!!!

  • The Ghost of Obama Past

    I blame the Russians.

  • All American

    Truth from an ally not from the American press:
    http://canadafreepress.com/article/trump-accomplishments-vs.-media-crap

  • AtomicFury

    Fake.

  • Andrew Estes

    This report is a bunch of CRAP! Trump is not isolated and never will be. We the people are right here with Him!

  • Steve Warford

    I think most of the 63,000,000 who voted for Trump still strongly support him. We are not so stupid out here that we cannot see through the liberal media lies, smoke, and mirrors! Republicans in Congress better have a firm grasp of their constituents before they dump Trump – liberal polls are not too reliable – as we found out in November.

  • Truth

    Trump is fighting a closed Union Shop of GOV. officials that already changed the constitution to allow people with titles of nobility to run the county. Lawyers and Judges have not got his back! This is a illegal Senate and Congress.

  • CLS

    he isn’t isolated i stand with him

  • Semper Veritas

    Jimmy, have you ever considered making a career change – a journalist you’re not!

    President Trump we stand with you and support you as you clean-up the huge pile of cr% p you inherited from the apologizer-in-chief and his band of incompetents. The continual background noise playing from the Dems and the liberal media is melodious music to our ears.

  • SayNO2Liberalism

    Dear President Trump, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for standing up against the evil that has been trying to destroy our country from within for the last three decades. Evil was defeated on November 8, 2016 and it can be defeated again. Be strong, be brave, long live the Republic!

  • Donald York

    If you want to report something, please be truthful and forget the sensational spin.

  • principacia

    Didn’t go to OAN to find out what what Reuters had to say about anything. I can get that on every news channel . Guess I can quit trying to find a package with my cable company that includes OAN.

  • M60A1

    While the Jackass Party is busily chopping away at the roots of America, the RINO’s are hiking their skirts and changing the channel to watch the 2018 election. America suffers as a whole. With $20 Trillion debt dragging behind the recovery train, ALL hands need to be on board to make this nation whole again. It can be done but when political interests and hurt feelings combine with the results of Failure 44, it becomes an uphill battle.

    • Trumpkin

      Thank you! Your comment is right on!

    • All American

      And elephants never forget!!
      An elephant’s memory is key to its survival—and its herd’s. 🇺🇸

    • Redhands

      That $20 trillion debt, is why many voted for Trump!

  • Bill Jr

    At The White House Surrounded By Circling Media and Democratic Party Sharks In A Faux Feeding Frenzy, Trump Looks To Captain Ahab For Weapons Against The Big Moby-Dicks.

  • Hank

    Try all of the Tweeter Trumps gang for tresaon

    • FreedomFighter

      Try all the libtards for aggravated stupidity!!

    • WINNERS CIRCLE

      Try some Preperation H.

      • Dan Taylor

        It gets caught in their throat…

    • Dan Taylor

      Try learning how to spell – treason??? I know, you’re another result of the liberal dumbed down public school system…
      Not doin so well today so far?!?!?

  • All American

    The greatest threat facing America are the Progressive liberals and their pumped up propaganda fed to many at the hand of the media in many forms.
    This is Déjà vu to much of the world population. The rise of the Progressives is similar to what occurred in the 1930’s in Eastern Europe.
    Their deviations are clearly an attempt to take focus off of the prosecution of Hillary Clinton.
    When will a special prosecutor be assigned to dip into Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi misrep, emailgate, pay to play for large sums of money “donated” to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was acting Secretary of State and under her watch the inspector general cited the State Department for improper record keeping on $6 billion in government contracts.
    What is our governments position on these issues??

    • Hank

      Like the man said I could murder someone in Times Square and still get elected, I guess it was HRC fault as usual, always blame someone else for your leader stupidity put blame were it belongs he is your President you got what you wanted now take responsibility for his actions

      • All American

        Hey FO

        • Bill Jr

          Don’t Worry It’s Just Jay Way Off Base, He’s Been Hanging Out In The Peanut Gallery Again.

      • Trumpkin

        Yes, I agree, I could murder someone in Time Square and get away with it is not the best analogy for one’s popularity. I don’t blame HRC for that. What I do blame her for is using her so called charity as a cover for global racketeering. That is the reason I voted for him to keep someone like that out of the WH. He’s not a career politician and no one likes change, especially people who’s jobs have been taking special interest money, casting their votes and coming out behind close doors every 2-4 years. That goes for both parties. Weather you like him or not, It’s his turn to bat and after 4 years he may end up being part of the swamp that needs to be drained, but for now he has my support. May God Bless You, I know you’re just being passionate and want your voice to be heard.

        • Dan Taylor

          Well said…

      • FreedomFighter

        Wah Wah Wah little tittybaby!! Your whining and crying only shows you for the idiot you are Hanky boy. Like it or not Trump is YOUR President!!! Suck it up cupcake!
        Trump is WAY better than your muzzy POS imposter ever could be.

      • Dan Taylor

        Reading your posts… Do you have ANY clue what you’re talking about??? Not even coherent!!

        • FreedomFighter

          Hanky boy is so clueless that if he dressed in a clue skin, doused himself in clue musk, and did the clue dance in the middle of a field of superhorny clues at the height of clue mating season, he still would not have a clue!!

        • John Petersen

          Liberals are totally clueless, at least the liberals in the general public are. Their leaders are not. Their evil leaders hoodwink and psychologically manipulate their pathetic, spineless, clueless, gullible followers like puppets.

      • andrew moore

        Hank, the typical libtard snowflake basement dweller…..Did you collect your $3.50 for that comment Hank?

      • jonbatt

        For responsibility end stupidity look at your illegal garbage collector mayor

  • neocontoo

    ‘Reuters’? I was told OAN was the ONE independent place place to go to for the unbiased facts without the liberal spin.
    We are in the early stages of an undeclared civil war and the media is the propagandists of the left. I came here and see the same headlines as on NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, etc.
    Repeating the lies of the left does not make them facts. I see no ‘crisis at the top’. I see liberals in panic mode because they fear Sessions will launch a real investigation into Hillary’s crimes.
    BTW, here’s hoping Sessions will pursue the Seth Rich murder case and find out who killed him and why. It was no ‘robbery’, it was a politically motivated hit.

    • Hank

      Truth hurts so sad to bad

      • FreedomFighter

        Yes the truth about you filthy stupid lying dumb ass pathetic whiny liibtards hurts right Hanky????
        Your libtardism is a mental disease. Get well soon princess.

      • The Ghost of Obama Past

        Are you related to Mr. Hanky, the Christmas poo?

      • Relevant

        Still trying to be relevant, so sad, TOO bad.

    • tedlv

      OANN staffers rarely contribute. When they do, it’s very good and well balanced. The majority of articles are from Reuters. The only reason I am still here is because several of the commenters are familiar to you, and we agree on most things.

      Then there’s the childish, illiterate attack troll.

    • principacia

      My sentiments exactly!!!

    • Dan Taylor

      Well said…

    • Susan Nicola

      Absolutely!

    • HarryObrian

      Will that be before or after the Vince Foster murder and the long list of other Dixie Mafia murders are solved?

    • bobruark

      so true and why i rarely come to this site any longer. I just go straight to reuters … but mostly Breitbart…this article is fake liberal attack propaganda…not news.

  • John C Raby

    Think about it. The one man that can bring peace and prosperity into the world elected by the American people is being destroyed by the most evil and corrupt group of political zealots to ever walk on the face of earth.
    Most of these spiritually blinded souls follow their satanic group in a public trance like the “Borg” on Star Trek where the group thought process reigns supreme. They care not about other people or freedom or liberty as their one goal is to forcibly assimilate all human life forms into their collective. Why? Because their leaders Satan and Lucifer believe that their collective can stall their own certain annihilation yet to come.
    And how does one discern the truth in thee matters? Consider the gift of truth from Christ: John 16:13 “However, when He, the sprit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth, for he will not speakon his own authority, but what ever He hears He Will speak, and He will tell you things to come.”

    • All American

      And the losers like Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton lost for a reason⬇️

      • Hank

        Once again fake news

        • FreedomFighter

          Nothing fake about what All American stated. The truth just hurts your poor little libtard feelings doesn’t it Hanky boy??? Want a tissue?

        • Redneck
          • All American

            Love this video! Forwarded to everyone that I know🇺🇸👍🏻

        • All American

          Hahahaha ya if you live on Mars!

          • FreedomFighter

            Hanky boy lives in Libtardia.

          • All American

            Oh yes I have heard of this new place that “they” populate⬇️

        • John Petersen

          Has a maracle occurred? Hank, if you think the article above by James Oliphant is fake news you are right! Notice how it has no real substance or facts, and only drives a narrative, yet it is presented as fact. This is an example of what we call B. S. Fake News. It’s a special type of fake news fabricated by the elite liberals to inject warm, fresh manure into the minds of their poor, pitiful, spineless followers and thus manipulate them.

  • FreedomFighter

    OAN, WTF are you idiots doing? You are getting as bad as the MSM with these lies and rubbish you keep printing. Get off the liberal liars bandwagon and stop the stupidity of reprinting Reuters fake news if you want to become credible. The White House isn’t in crisis morons. The libtards are.

    • HarryObrian

      They are giving us a chance to see the fake news without being inundated with the sloths who both write and fawn over it. It’s called balance. maturity and education. If they prove me wrong and are sliding left then we all have the freedom to move on.

      • FreedomFighter

        The way I see it is that they are too damn lazy to do their own stories so they reprint trash from other places. There’s nothing balanced about doing that.

  • Deplorable Phytomorphogenesis

    OAN… are you serious?

  • TRUMP

    Nazi propaganda OAN!

  • TBird

    This looks like “REPORTING BIAS” to me. Where in California, Minnesota or other bastion of “liberals” did they poll?