Still, Trump has been in a rancid state since his November loss to Biden. Obsessed with conspiracy theories fed to him by Powell, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and other allies, he has aired grievances at will on Twitter and been easily provoked to lash out at aides.

“All of us are just trying to stay off the radar,” one senior administration official said. “You have a conversation with him and, the next thing you know, you’re pulled into, ‘Hey, Sidney Powell told me yadda, yadda, yadda,’ or, ‘Rudy said blah, blah, blah.’ There’s no upside to being in his orbit right now.”…

A recent advertisement from the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC run by longtime Republican strategists, drew the president’s fury. In it, the narrator speaks directly to Trump and says, ominously, that Pence is “running away” from him by not fully amplifying his claims of widespread election fraud…

Trump wanted to issue a cease-and-desist letter to the Lincoln Project over the ad, although it is unclear what legal ground, if any, he might have for doing so. Officials said he ultimately was talked out of it.