Resistance to aggressive efforts to roll back the impeachment reflects a president who is both isolated and distracted by political grievances.
In his final days in office, Trump still spends time ranting the election he lost to Joe Biden in November, and surrounds himself with a handful of loyalists – including Rudy Giuliani – who, according to him, have been with him from the start were interviews with eight current and former Trump aides.
“Everyday from the election to the signing [executive orders] and the focus on politics has definitely waned because his focus has been on the election and overturning those results, “the White House official said. “We obviously don’t have any politics or anything like that.”
And since Twitter blocked his account, Trump has made more calls than usual – not, as a former Trump adviser said, “to more people”, but “the same people over and over again”.
“He’s talking to people who are willing to pamper him,” said a former senior administrator.
Even more than usual, Trump was not busy with the work of the presidency, leaving much of the official business to others, including Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired a meeting of the White House’s coronavirus task force on Monday as the number of pandemics rose more than rises 3,000 deaths per day in the United States.
“Things that require the president to sign have certainly slowed down and he was just lost in himself,” said a former senior administration official. The official said there had been many talks with Trump, including political issues into the president complaining about an election he still won’t publicly admit he’s lost.
“There has been a feeling of congestion and more and more initiatives piling up and it’s frustrating for everyone,” said the former official.
Trump and Pence’s relationship has also been strained since last Wednesday when the vice president refused to object to Biden’s victory while chairing a joint congressional session to confirm the election results. The president hadn’t called Pence since then – a nudge that had infuriated administration officials at Trump. But the two met Monday night in the Oval Office.
“The two had a good chat, discussed the week ahead and reflected on the past four years of work and achievements in the administration,” said a senior administration official. “They also agreed that those who stormed the Capitol did not represent the America First movement.”
Trump’s conversation with Pence wasn’t the only signal that he was trying to make amends in the face of impending impeachment and tie the loose ends of his presidency elsewhere. The White House also said Monday that Trump had “declared an emergency exists in the District of Columbia” and ordered federal support to complement efforts around the upcoming inauguration day. Trump also awarded Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) the Presidential Medal of Freedom and will visit Alamo, Texas on Tuesday to view the US-Mexico border wall. This could be his last trip in office.
But elsewhere, government action, including the ceremonial elements, has slowed dramatically. plans To reward New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he appeared scrapped after Belichick said he would not be attending. And the President’s daily public schedule gave no indication of actual events.
Since December 23, 15 variations of the language have been on the program: “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late at night. He will be making many calls and having many meetings. “A former White House official said the language was included in Trump’s briefing to make it appear that he was busy.
“It was [he] who ordered it to be done, “said the official,” and he wanted to combat this narrative [that he wasn’t working]. ”
The White House did not answer specific questions about impeachment or allegations that Trump was not actively governing. Instead, Spokesperson Judd Deere released a statement: “For the past four years, President Trump has pulled back government regulations, built the strongest and most comprehensive economy in history, brought much-needed accountability to the authorities, brought our troops home and developed a safe more effectively Vaccine in record time and changed the way business is done nationally and internationally, so the results are actually helping hardworking Americans. This important work continues as we rebuild our economy and fulfill the promises he made that have led to a safer, stronger, and safer America. “
Overshadowing Trump’s final days is in danger of impeachment. A single article, according to a congressional assistant involved in the process, has already rallied at least 218 cosponsors in the house to get the majority needed for the house to pass. Following a House vote, the article is expected to be moved to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that a trial is unlikely to begin until the House returns on Jan. 19.
When he was first charged in 2019 on charges that used the powers of his office to pressure the President of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, Trump led an aggressive defense with a team of lawyers called a war room , a Republican lawmaker helping in his defense, and hundreds of media interviews with aides to suppress public opinion.
These days, Trump has surrounded himself with some of the original aides he relied on even before he got into the White House – senior policy advisor Stephen Miller; Director of Human Resources for the President of the White House John McEntee; Social Media Director Dan Scavino; and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The number of employees in the White House had already declined due to the coronavirus, the holidays and the impending end of administration. Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s closest advisors, has not worked in the White House in weeks, two people said. She plans to leave her post this week.
Instead, Trump relies heavily on the advice of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former top poll workers Jason Miller and Steve Cortes, and a small team of lawyers led by Giuliani, the former New York Mayor who continues to tell Trump won he got the choice, although he actually lost, after two people.
Republicans have long tried to convince Trump to get rid of Giuliani – or “My Rudy” as the president sometimes calls him – but to no avail.
“The majority of the staff are becoming increasingly frustrated and frustrated with the situation and want to get to the finish line and deal with all of this,” said a former White House official.
Meridith McGraw, Alex Isenstadt, Gabby Orr, and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.