- President Donald Trump’s aides and confidants are concerned about his mental state after days of erratic behaviour and wild outbursts.
- “His mood changes from one minute to the next based on some headline or tweet, and the next thing you know his entire schedule gets tossed out the window because he’s losing his s—,” one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations about the president, told Insider.
- Trump has spent the past several days fixated on his false claim over the weekend that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. He has also lobbed attacks at his perceived enemies, like the actress Debra Messing, former FBI Director James Comey, and the “LameStream media.”
- “He’s deteriorating in plain sight,” one Republican strategist who is in frequent contact with the White House told Insider on Friday.
- But a person who was close to Trump’s legal team during the Russia investigation told Insider his public statements were “nothing compared to what he’s like behind closed doors.”
- “He’s like a bull seeing red,” this person added. “There’s just no getting through to him, and you can kiss your plans for the day goodbye because you’re basically stuck looking after a 4-year-old now.”
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President Donald Trump’s aides and confidants are growing more and more worried about his mental state after days of erratic behaviour, wild outbursts, and bizarre fixations.
“No one knows what to expect from him anymore,” one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations about the president, told Insider.
They added: “His mood changes from one minute to the next based on some headline or tweet, and the next thing you know his entire schedule gets tossed out the window because he’s losing his s—.”
Sources told Insider the president’s advisers are particularly worried about his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that a tweet he sent over the weekend claiming that Alabama was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian was false. They believe that his frustration is compounded by stress about the 2020 election and the economy’s recent downturn.
“People are used to the president saying things that aren’t true, but this Alabama stuff is another story,” the former official said. “This was the president sending out patently false information about a national-emergency situation as it was unfolding.”
Trump’s latest outbursts on the matter came Friday as he railed against the media for fact-checking him on the claim.
Trump also complained that “this nonsense has never happened to another President. Four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology.”
Later Friday, the president posted a misleading video that included a CNN clip from Wednesday, August 28, in which a reporter said the hurricane was threatening several US states, including Alabama.
The video then played the reporter saying “Alabama” on loop, cut to a clip of Trump nodding, and then to a doctored clip of CNN’s logo superimposed onto a moving truck which careened off the road and caught fire.
But Trump’s first tweet about Alabama being in Hurricane Dorian’s path came on Saturday, by which time weather forecasters had determined that it was not going to be hit.
‘He’s deteriorating in plain sight’
As of Friday evening, Trump had posted 15 tweets and five maps about Alabama and the storm to try to prove his original tweet was correct, despite the fact that he’d been publicly rebuked by the National Weather Service. He also showed reporters an altered map of the storm’s path on Wednesday to defend his claims, a move that may be illegal, according to federal law.
“He’s deteriorating in plain sight,” one Republican strategist who’s in frequent contact with the White House told Insider on Friday.
Asked why the president was obsessed with Alabama instead of the states that would actually be affected by the storm, the strategist said, “you should ask a psychiatrist about that; I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment.”
Trump often airs his grievances publicly, either on Twitter or while speaking with reporters, which means the world has an unprecedented window into the president’s stream of consciousness.
For instance, on Labour Day weekend, as Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas and made its way to the US’s mainland, Trump took breaks in between golfing to post more than 120 tweets.
In addition to updates on Hurricane Dorian and quote tweets of fawning praise of his presidency from Fox News, the subjects of Trump’s tweets included:
- Former FBI Director James Comey.
- Four freshman Democratic congresswomen of colour known as “the squad.”
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
- “Failing New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.”
- “Amazon Washington Post.”
- The “LameStream Media.”
- The liberal actress and activist Debra Messing.
‘He’s like a bull seeing red’
Messing provoked ire from both sides of the aisle when she posted a tweet last week calling for a public list of Trump donors who will attend an upcoming fundraiser for him in Beverly Hills, California.
The “Will & Grace” actress’ tweet drew a harsh response from “The View” cohost Whoopi Goldberg, who likened it to the McCarthyism of the 1950s.
Trump had Messing on his mind as recently as Thursday, when he referenced Goldberg’s comments and tweeted, “Bad ‘actress’ Debra The Mess Messing is in hot water. She wants to create a ‘Blacklist’ of Trump supporters, & is being accused of McCarthyism.”
The president also latched onto another tweet Messing posted in which she praised a sign in front of an Alabama church implying that black voters who support Trump are mentally ill. Messing later apologised for “recklessly” sharing the sign and added that its use of the term “mentally ill” was “wrong & hurtful.”
Trump called Messing a “racist because of the terrible things she said about blacks and mental illness” and added that if the actress Roseanne Barr – an avid Trump supporter – had said the same thing, she would have been fired.
Barr was fired from her sitcom last year after making racist comments about an aide to former President Barack Obama. “Will Fake News NBC allow a McCarthy style Racist to continue?” Trump wrote, referring to Messing.
The actress responded by linking to a New Yorker piece this week that detailed Trump’s wild behaviour over the past month.
She added that she hoped “his family gets him the help he needs. Sad.”
Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, also weighed in on Trump’s state of mind on Friday.
“I think the president is in severe mental decline, and I’m not saying that now because I’m a political adversary or I disavowed him. I’m saying that objectively just looking at what’s going on,” Scaramucci said at the Toronto Global Forum.
This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about Trump’s mental state and his fitness for office. In fact, it’s a regular topic of discussion in the White House.
This was confirmed by the anonymous author of a New York Times op-ed last year who said Trump’s aides routinely ignore or dismiss his orders for the good of the country. Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” and Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” detailed similar instances.
And the former special counsel Robert Mueller also found that Trump’s myriad efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation were largely unsuccessful only because his underlings refused to carry out his directives.
Indeed, one person who was close to Trump’s legal team during the Russia investigation told Insider his public statements were “nothing compared to what he’s like behind closed doors.”
“He’s like a bull seeing red,” this person added. “There’s just no getting through to him, and you can kiss your plans for the day goodbye because you’re basically stuck looking after a 4-year-old now.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.