It was a fun weekend for Donald Trump. Late on Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, the outgoing FBI deputy director whom Trump had long targeted, and the president spent the rest of the weekend taking victory laps: cheering McCabe’s departure, taking shots at his former boss and mentor James Comey, and renewing his barrage against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump’s moods shift quickly, but over the last week or so, a different overarching feel has manifested itself, a meta-mood. Although he remains irritated by Mueller and any number of other things, Trump seems to be relishing the latest sound of chaos, “leaning into the maelstrom,” as McKay Coppins put it Friday. This is rooted, Maggie Haberman reports, in a growing confidence on the president’s part: “A dozen people close to Mr. Trump or the White House, including current and former aides and longtime friends, described him as newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him.”
Some of Trump’s advisers did not have so much fun this weekend. Aides have advised him to avoid attacking Mueller; to avoid tweets that could have bearing on that and other legal cases; to avoid sweeping tariffs; not to agree to a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; and counseled against any number of other steps. Those aides have seen their advice discarded, and in some cases they themselves have been discarded. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired in humiliating fashion. Trump levied the tariffs knowing it would likely push economic adviser Gary Cohn to resign. Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly no longer has the same sway he once did, and his threats to resign have worn thin, Haberman reports. Trump no longer feels he needs these people. And two of the staffers to whom Trump was closest, Keith Schiller and Hope Hicks, have left or will leave soon.