Trump's Campaign Succeeded By Breaking All The Rules—and It’s Catching Up To Him Now

Trump's Campaign Succeeded by Breaking All the Rulesand Its Catching Up to Him Now

Recalling his victory over Hillary Clinton has been the presidents only solace for months, but his personnel and management decisions now threaten to topple his presidency.

David A. Graham Jul 12, 2017 Politics

Donald Trumps campaign for president seemed to vacillate between, to borrow Hunter S. Thompsons dichotomy, being too weird to live and too rare to die. All the smartest analysts were convinced that it was definitely too weird to live. Stocked with amateurs, retreads, and minor-league washouts suddenly promoted for a cup of coffee, and overseen by a candidate with a penchant for enormous gaffes. The Trump team was widely viewed as on the verge of collapse. The joke was on the wise analysts: The candidacy turned out to be too rare to die, and now Trump is president.

But with a few months extra perspective, and after several days of damaging revelations, its becoming clear that although Trumps chaotic approach to the campaign did not prevent him from winning the White House, and may actually have provided him with a crucial edge, it is hobbling his presidency. The undisciplined, untutored atmosphere is on display in the meeting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had with a woman they believed to be a Russian government lawyer offering opposition research on behalf of the Kremlin, and there may be more damaging revelations to come.

Politico reported on a bleak atmosphere inside the administration Tuesday night: One Trump adviser said the White House was essentially helpless because the conduct happened during an anything goes campaign that had few rules.


The campaign scandals are not Trumps only problems. He has hundreds of unfilled executive-branch jobs, most of them without nominees. His foreign policy has been chaotic at best, even setting aside problems that have bedeviled several of his predecessors, especially North Koreas nuclear problem. On the home front, he has not notched a single major legislative win yet, and his executive orders have a miserable record in court. But it is the campaign scandalsand his firing of FBI Director James Comey, which he says was in response to the FBIs Russia investigation, and which has raised questions of obstruction of justiceare the gravest threat to his presidency. The irony, of course, is that if the Trump campaign really did conspire with Russia to interfere in the election, and that swayed the result, then he also wouldnt be president without that same motley assortment of staffers.

How truly different is the Trump administration from the Trump campaign on staffing? Certainly, there are more veteran hands at the White House than there were at Trump Tower. But the president has also seen multiple hires withdraw nominations or leave jobs without security clearances due to improper vetting. Its an open question to what extent the same lack of discipline that dogged the campaign affects the White House.

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