Since the start of the Donald Trump administration, a morbid watch has been kept: Though the president is adept at creating his own crises, either intentionally or not, experts noted that he had not faced a full-scale crisis that was not of his own making. Those are the times that test presidents. How would Trump react when his moment came?
It’s fitting that during Advent, the season of waiting before Christmas, a crisis has arrived. But while it is, yet again, Trump’s own creation, it may be just as consequential as the calamity that the president’s critics have long feared. For the past two years, the nation and the administration have stumbled from crisis to crisis, yet the breadth and depth of the current peril might exceed even the period around James Comey’s firing in May 2017 and the aftermath of Trump’s meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2018.
Friday dawned with the government heading inexorably toward a shutdown, driven by Trump’s intractable demands for a pricey and likely futile border wall. His administration is in chaos after Defense Secretary James Mattis, the most widely respected figure in the administration, announced his resignation Thursday in a stunning letter. His is only the latest of several high-level departures. Republican leaders are furious over the president’s plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Stock markets in the United States and overseas are tumbling. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues to chip away at the foundations of the presidency, gradually compiling an astonishing chronicle of lawlessness and corruption in Trump’s inner circle—with much of Mueller’s work still either incomplete or not public.