Surrounded by shrinking circle of aides, a brooding Trump lashes out

By Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters January 08, 2021 01:10:41 IST
Surrounded by shrinking circle of aides, a brooding Trump lashes out

Surrounded by shrinking circle of aides a brooding Trump lashes out

By Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has increasingly isolated himself in the White House, relying on a small group of diehard loyalists and lashing out at those who dare to cross him, including Vice President Mike Pence, said four sources familiar with the matter.

Some longtime advisers are steering clear of talking to Trump after he fired up hundreds of supporters who swarmed the U.S. Capitol in what even fellow Republicans called an insurrection and a deep stain on Trump's legacy.

The unprecedented breach of the Capitol building forced Pence and members of Congress to be evacuated just as they had convened to certify the 2020 election victory of President-elect Joe Biden over Trump. Four people died in the mayhem, including a woman shot by police.

"Don't want to," said one adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, when asked if there had been any recent contact with the president.

Trump was extremely agitated on Wednesday, moving from the Oval Office to the nearby private dining room, initially energized, but increasingly angry and closed off, said one source.

Trump was not allowing staff to help craft any messages earlier in the day. "It's not a controlled situation," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Trump has surrounded himself with an ever-smaller group of loyalists who cater to his whims, including digital director Dan Scavino, personal aide John McEntee, trade adviser Peter Navarro, speechwriter Stephen Miller, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, one source said.

"It's sad. These are the people around him and egging him on," the source said, who also asked not to be identified.

The White House declined to comment.

It was Scavino who, after Congress certified Biden's victory, tweeted out a statement from Trump early on Thursday to say the president would go along with an orderly transition of power to Biden. Trump himself was suspended from Twitter at the time and could not send the tweet himself.

In the statement, Trump clung to the notion that the Nov. 3 election was rigged against him but acknowledged he would be leaving the White House on Biden's Inauguration Day.

"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on Jan. 20," he said.

Trump has lashed out repeatedly at Pence, publicly and privately, for refusing to try to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's win, and has been seething at Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, for stating that Pence would perform his constitutional duty, the sources said.

Trump berated Pence to his face this week, one source said.

Pence, a former Indiana governor and former Republican lawmaker who harbors presidential ambitions, has been loyal to Trump throughout the president's four years in office.

The vice president's office declined to comment, but a Pence adviser said "everyone around him is very proud of him" for how he performed his constitutional duty and that he had told Trump ahead of time what he planned to do.

"Mike Pence does not surprise the president. He was honest about what he was going to do," the adviser.

Trump bailed out on a plan to speak via video on Thursday to the Republican National Committee's winter dinner in Amelia Island, Florida, where Republican officials are gathering this week to chart out the future, a Republican official said.

There has been some talk among Cabinet members and allies about invoking the 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution as a way to remove Trump from office, but a source familiar with that effort doubted it would take place given the short period of time left in his term.

Some White House officials, stunned by Trump's downward spiral in recent days, were debating whether to resign in protest or to stay for the last two weeks to ensure a proper transition to the Biden team, one aide said.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, on Thursday became the first Trump Cabinet minister to quit since the Capitol siege.

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Trump's temperament reflected his aversion to losing.

"This is him at the end, when he loses something. This is the way it is, the end," Nunberg said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mary Milliken and Howard Goller)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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