C’mon. How many times has this argument played out since Inauguration Day among Trump critics? One group howls that everyone should quit in protest, the other group inevitably howls back do you really want to see who, or what, replaces Mattis? Mattis, Tillerson, Kelly, McMaster, Pompeo — each of them knows that resigning might mean they’re succeeded by Corey Lewandowski. In fact, Trump being Trump, all of them might be succeeded by Corey Lewandowski. Or worse: One false move towards the exit and we may end up with Roger Stone as chief of staff or Ted Nugent as secretary of defense. This is what happens when you have a phalanx of aides convinced that their superior is … well, maybe not altogether stable. Ironically, they’re probably less likely to resign the worse he behaves, for fear of what he might do without professionals around him. It’s a hostage situation, essentially.
There’ll be plenty of irritating “XYZ unhappy with Trump” leaks to the media in the next few days, though, as each of these people makes it known publicly that they don’t want to be associated with Trump’s alt-right equivocation. Gary Cohn, who could retire to a life of immense luxury and leisure at any moment, is signaling to his friends back in New York not to be mad at him for Trump going full Trump:
Gary Cohn said to be deeply upset by last few days, per multiple sources. Not leaving admin but not happy
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 16, 2017
Will Cohn’s gigantic fortune ensure that he’s welcomed back into Manhattan society after leaving the White House or has the Charlottesville fiasco exiled him forever? Stay tuned!
Axios is also teasing the possibility of mass resignations. It’s good clickbait, if nothing else:
It puts Trump’s tortured staff in a bigger jam: How do they look their African American friends in the eye, and rationalize their support of Trump?
We’re told close aides aren’t shocked, but mainly dispirited…
A West Wing confidant tells us: “The danger for Trump now is that one senior resignation will start a run on the bank” — as soon as one top staffer quits, several others could follow.
That might be worth doing if there was reason to believe Trump would learn a lesson from it and behave differently going forward. He won’t. Mass resignations would lead to a worse administration instead of a better one, per my Nugent hypothetical, and they all know it. No one’s resigning. Or maybe one person will with the private encouragement of the others, to send a statement to the public that the cabinet’s not happy with the president lately either. Tillerson’s been rumored for awhile to be eyeing an early departure. Maybe the Charlottesville fallout will bring about “Rexit.”
Gotta say, though — it’s not easy to argue with this logic:
My favorite thing about the admin is how most people there don't actually do anything, and just leak their opinions on what Trump said.
— Alan Cole (@AlanMCole) August 16, 2017
The department chiefs, like Pompeo and Mattis, put their heads down and go to work but there does seem to be a lot of dead weight in the “advisor” segment who could be safely unloaded with little ill effect. The leaks would probably drop by 90 percent.
Suddenly I have this image of the entire cabinet assembling in the Oval Office, announcing their joint statement of resignation to the president, and filing out. And Trump looks up and there’s Steve Bannon, all alone, smoking a cigar. Last man standing.