Tempests buffeting White House threaten to engulf Trump

Associated Press


The Russia collusion probe. The Stormy Daniels allegations. The escalating tension with Moscow.

The tempests that have separately buffeted the White House for months merged into a maelstrom this week and threatened to engulf President Donald Trump, who Wednesday railed against members of the Justice Department by name and took to Twitter to threaten military strikes in Syria and taunt a nuclear-armed power.

While alarmed aides and allies worried that Trump was the angriest he’d ever been, the president saw conspiracies in the challenges facing his administration and hinted at more chaos. And as Trump’s party was rocked by upheaval on Capitol Hill, White House staffers explored whether he has the legal authority to fire the men leading the investigation into his administration and, as underscored by the seizure of documents from his private lawyer, his business and personal life.

“Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama,” Trump tweeted. “Mueller is most conflicted of all [except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter]. No Collusion, so they go crazy!”

That message followed another provocative tweet, in which Trump laced into Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government is accused of launching an apparent chemical attack Saturday on its own people. Disregarding his own insistence that he would never tip his hand to military strategy, he seemed to suggest that he would launch airstrikes.

The president’s renewed public anger at special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein was prompted by the FBI raid on his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, who acknowledged paying $130,000 to Daniels, a porn actress, to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.

Although the president declared that his White House was “calm and calculated,” aides said decisions happen fast and with even less warning than usual when Trump feels backed into a corner.

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