Divisions, dysfunction and high-profile exits have left the young administration nearly paralysed and allies wondering how it will reboot.
The bold policy moves that marked Trump’s first days in office have slowed to a crawl, a tacit admission that he and his team had not thoroughly prepared an agenda.
Nearly a week after the administration’s travel ban was struck down by a federal court, the White House is still struggling to regroup and outline its next move on that signature issue.
It’s been six days since Trump, who promised unprecedented levels of immediate action, has announced a major new policy directive or legislative plan.
His team is riven by division and plagued by distractions. This week alone, controversy has forced out both his top national security aide and his pick for labour secretary.
To be sure, pinballing from one crisis to the next is not unprecedented, particularly for a White House still finding its footing. But the disruptions that have swirled around Trump achieved hurricane force early and have not let up.
On Wednesday his choice for labour secretary, fast food CEO Andy Puzder, withdrew his nomination while the administration continued to navigate the fallout from the forced resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was ousted on grounds that he misled the vice president about his contacts with a Russian ambassador.
“Another day in paradise,” Trump quipped on Wednesday after his meeting with retailers was interrupted by reporters’ questions about links between his campaign staff and Russian officials.
Fellow Republicans have begun voicing their frustration and open anxiety that the Trump White House will derail their high hopes for legislative action.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota demanded yesterday that the White House “get past the launch stage.”
“There are things we want to get done here, and we want to have a clear-eyed focus on our agenda, and this constant disruption and drumbeat with these questions that keep being raised is a distraction,” said Thune.
Senator John McCain of Arizona blasted the White House’s approach to national security as “dysfunctional,” asking: “Who is in charge? I don’t know of anyone outside of the White House who knows.”
Such criticism from political allies is rare during what is often viewed as a honeymoon period for a new president. But Trump, an outsider who campaigned almost as much against his party as for it, has only a tiny reservoir of goodwill to protect him within the Republican.