The White House is overwhelmed with the Russia scandal

Staffers are having trouble coming to grips with the situation Trump has put them in

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 17, 2017 7:44AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As President Donald Trump reels from Russia-related scandal to Russia-related scandal, reports are depicting members of the Trump White House as wallowing in fatigue and despair, with one senior official bluntly admitted to The Daily Beast: "I don't see how Trump isn't completely fucked."

The unending wave of crises have caused so much chaos that they've started having an almost "numbing effect," the outlet reported. Another staffer initially told the site that "every time I feel like we’re getting a handle on the last Russia fiasco, a new one pops," but then admitted that because news of the James Comey memo leaked before Trump could get through the controversy of him sharing classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials, "I guess I was wrong about the timing. We can’t even wrap up one Russia fiasco before we’re on to the next one."

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The prevailing attitude was perhaps best summed up by a Trump administration official who admitted, "I feel like running down the hallway with a fire extinguisher."

Part of the problem is that the sheer magnitude of Trump's ongoing scandals, as well as the fact that no one seems to know what will happen next, has left White House staffers without any sense of direction.

"Nobody knows where this really goes from here. Everyone is walking around saying, ‘What is next?’" one staffer told Politico. Even staffers who constantly read reports that their jobs are in jeopardy (most notably press secretary Sean Spicer) find themselves exhausted as they put in 12-hour days in an increasingly thankless work environment. Staffers are reluctant to publicly defend the administration not only because the scandals are becoming increasingly indefensible, but because Trump often goes on Twitter and publicly undercuts the people who try to advocate on his behalf.

Even though the White House knew about the New York Times' impending story on former FBI Director James Comey's memo two hours before it was published, Trump didn't even provide staffers with a complete reading of that conversation.

"It’s not like we were in on the meeting. We had no idea. We still don’t really know what was said," one staffer told Politico.

Trump apparently retreated to the White House residence within an hour-and-a-quarter of the story being published, leaving staffers to fend for themselves.

Considering that Trump is the same president who politically survived the revelation that he openly bragged about committing sexual assault, it is entirely possible that he will pull off a miracle and emerge from the Russia scandal unscathed. But it's increasingly impossible to envision how he can shake the impression that he obstructed the FBI's investigation into alleged collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia — and if he can't, he may be impeached.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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