The Atlantic

The White House Melts Down Over Steel

For a few months this fall and winter, it seemed like the Trump administration was slowly finding its footing. February destroyed that illusion.
Source: Carolyn Kaster / AP

For a few months this fall and winter, someone who was squinting just right could see the Trump administration starting to finally get its footing. Chief of Staff John Kelly’s tenure had started off bumpily, with Trump’s sort-of backing for white supremacists after Charlottesville, but there had been some calming effect.

Kelly improved the quality of information getting to the president and calmed some of the internecine warfare in the West Wing. Trump’s tweeting became slightly less frantic, though he could still manage an occasional eruption. The president gave fewer of the wide-ranging, news-upending interviews he once had. He avoided publicly sniping at special counsel Robert Mueller, or threatening to fire him. Congress finally passed one of his legislative priorities, a suite of tax cuts, in December. Trump’s approval rating started to rebound.

But the month of February has destroyed any illusion that the White House was getting on track. The president, and the presidency, are as far off the rails as ever.

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