President Donald Trump’s White House is reeling in the aftermath of two high-profile indictments of former campaign aides and the arrest and guilty plea of another, said Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman on Wednesday.
As panic tightens its grip on the West Wing, some in the president’s inner circle have begun to dread the possibility of impeachment.
“Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg to Sherman. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f*cked.”
Sherman spoke to a half dozen of the president’s friends and advisers and found that talk has now begun about how to play out Trump’s endgame and that now “impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.”
As the president’s lawyers take an official line that they are cooperating in every way with the Mueller investigation, behind the scenes Trump’s allies fret that there are no easy outcomes.
Firing Mueller could ignite a political firestorm and plans to undermine the former FBI director’s credibility are already falling flat.
Trump himself is said to be furious that the Mueller probe has gone this far and is lashing out in all directions, including at Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and members of the White House team — particularly Jared Kushner.
Nunberg told Sherman that many in Trump’s orbit have coalesced around the idea that Kushner has been the source of a number of failed ideas and initiatives, including the push to fire former FBI Director James Comey.
“Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” said Nunberg. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”
One aide confided that Trump is blazingly angry that former political rival Hillary Clinton has never had to face such intense legal scrutiny from a special counsel, saying, “He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?”
Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — fearful that Trump’s power is ebbing away — has urged the president to take a more combative approach with Mueller.
“The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon—many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects — have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote,” wrote Sherman.