"Aides said they strive to avoid appearing 'weak' or 'low­ energy'"

The chaos and competing factions that were a Trump trademark in business and campaigning now are starting to define his presidency, according to interviews with a dozen White House officials as well as other Republicans. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal White House dynamics and deliberations.

Some senior officials are worried about their own standing with the president, who through his casual conversations with friends and associates sometimes seems to hint that a shake-up could come at a moment’s notice. Aides said they strive to avoid appearing “weak” or “low­ energy” — two of Trump’s least favorite attributes.

Staffers buzz privately about who is up and who is down, with many eagerly gossiping about which poor colleague gets an unflattering portrayal on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” For the past two weeks, it has been White House press secretary Sean Spicer. But aides said Trump was especially upset by a sketch that cast White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon as the Grim Reaper manipulating the president — who was ultimately relegated to a miniature desk, playing dolefully with an expandable toy.