Stories

Trump’s tight, lonely corner

President Trump standing in a corner of a red room.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

You're president of the United States, running the most powerful nation on earth — stock markets soaring, joblessness sinking, the world in a season of relative peace and prosperity.

The bottom line: But President Trump has never been more isolated from allies he needs most.

  • The public is against him: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll found a record 60% of Americans view him unfavorably.
  • Guess who those same people like a lot better: Robert Mueller (63% support his investigation) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (64% say he shouldn't be fired; 62% side with him on the Mueller probe). 
  • His legal team is shrinking. Not only is top White House lawyer Don McGahn leaving soon, but McGahn deputy counsel Annie Donaldson is expected to leave soon after. "[T]he White House Counsel’s Office has dwindled to about 25 lawyers, down from roughly 35," per the WashPost.
  • His allies are buckling, with embarrassing admissions in the plea deal by personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
  • Immunity has been granted to his gossip shield, David Pecker, CEO of the National Enquirer's publisher; and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
  • Tensions with staff run high as ever. He has never been close to many of his top staffers, and this is more true than ever. 
  • The N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweets: "His aides say he is behaving as if he is cornered."

Be smart ... Everything in Trump's life has been about going big: The buildings got bigger, the deals got bigger, the bankruptcies got bigger —which only made the comebacks bigger, which made winning the presidency all the bigger.

  • The corner feels small, and he keeps being told the one big move he fantasizes about making — staring down Mueller under the bright lights, one on one — could destroy it all.