The presidency of Donald Trump has been no stranger to chaos. But recently, the pace of events feels like it’s been accelerating, as staff members leave, major decisions are abruptly announced, and new developments in investigations of Trump and his associates are reported.
On Thursday night, the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was thought to be a steadying influence, left some Washington observers “shaken” and “rattled” — and wondering if the administration had reached a major turning point
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who was facing ethics investigations into his business dealings, travel, and policy decisions resigns.
The Washington Post reports that a Senate report has found the Russian cyberoperation to swing the 2016 election in favor of Trump used every major social media platform — and worked even harder to support him after he took office.
Two former business associates of Michael Flynn, Trump’s convicted former national security adviser, are indicted as part of a probe into a secret lobbying campaign by Turkey to get the United States to expel a rival of Turkey’s president.
Flynn, who has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump campaign links with Russia, appears in federal court to receive what is expected to be a lenient sentence. But the judge abruptly postpones the hearing, saying he is disgusted with Flynn and telling him, “Arguably, you sold your country out.” Flynn is expected to continue cooperating and return later for another hearing.
The New York attorney general’s office says the Trump Foundation, in response to a legal action by the state, will shut down and give away all its funds. Attorney General Barbara Underwood accuses the foundation of “a shocking pattern of illegality” that includes unlawfully coordinating with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
With the stroke of a tweet, Trump prematurely declares victory over ISIS and abruptly orders the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria, overruling his generals and civilian advisers and plunging his administration’s Middle East strategy into chaos. Critics say it will deliver a win to Russia, Iran, and Syrian leader Assad, as well as allow ISIS to make a comeback.
In a move that stuns Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general seen as one of the guardrails for an impulsive president (along with the ousted Kelly), resigns after clashing with Trump over the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Mattis’s letter highlights foreign policy differences between him and Trump.
US officials also say the Pentagon is developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, another sharp change in policy. One official said the troops could be out by summer, but no final decision has been made.
After signaling Tuesday that he might not insist on a government shutdown if he didn’t get his border wall funded, Trump takes flak from conservative media and Congress’s most conservative members. On Thursday, he reverses course and revives his demand for a wall — and the possibility of a shutdown. His comments overturn a plan Republican leaders had been patching together.
With a shutdown of 25 percent of the government approaching at midnight, Trump warns that if he does not get his border wall money, “there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time.” He meets with Republican senators and publicly exhorts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules, but McConnell resists. Trump, who had said he would be proud to take responsibility for a shutdown, on Friday tries to pin the blame on Democrats.
The stock market, whose gains Trump has hailed and taken credit for, sees steep drops on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, it seesaws — and in the afternoon it headed downward . Dow dived over 400 points , its worst week in 10 years Experts say the markets are heading toward the worst December on Wall Street since the depths of the Great Depression.