For the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency, the West Wing soap opera appears to be in hiatus, with many of its starring characters (Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks) either permanently offstage or with much reduced roles (John Kelly, Jared Kushner). Currently, there’s one star—a situation Trump is obviously enjoying—and his new freedom is used to focus ever more closely on his perceived enemies and obsessions. Amazon, whose owner, also owns The Washington Post, is currently the main target. Trump has ripped into Amazon in recent days, claiming in a series of tweets that Jeff Bezos’s tech giant benefits from billions in subsidies from the U.S. Post office while skirting sales taxes. “Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” Trump tweeted. On Monday, he wrote: “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country . . . not a level playing field!” The tweets caused Amazon’s stock to plunge 5 percent on Monday.
Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”