Cabinet of Donald Trump

How the Trump White House works

President Trump talks to journalists before boarding Marine One
President Trump talks to journalists before boarding Marine One yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump's sudden decision to cashier his choice for director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — five days after announcing the pick on Twitter — is a microcosm of how this White House works.

Catch up quick: First, months ago, Trump hears from conservative friends that Ratcliffe is a loyal guy — on Team Trump. Then Trump is blown away by Ratcliffe’s TV performance as he hammered Robert Mueller during his House hearings.

Why Trump keeps Bolton

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump made small talk with the Irish prime minister as they sat in the Oval Office in mid-March, accompanied by a handful of senior American and Irish officials. Trump, who wore a green tie and filled his jacket pocket with a clump of shamrock to honor the Irish leader's annual St. Patrick's Day visit, turned with a half-smile to his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, according to two sources who were in the room.

  • "John," Trump asked, "Is Ireland one of those countries you want to invade?"

Behind the scenes: The joke captured how Trump often privately interacts with Bolton, even occasionally in front of foreign heads of state. "John has never seen a war he doesn't like," Trump said in a recent Oval Office meeting, according to a source with direct knowledge.