Donald Trump “berated” Theresa May during a call from Air Force One, The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, after the British prime minister tried to congratulate him on the midterms. It seems he's in a bad mood.
The president reprimanded the PM about trade, Iran and even Brexit, sources told the Post. And it’s not just May who has witnessed Trump’s anger in recent days. The president has been in a furious mood since last week’s election results, according to multiple reports, with the Democratic victories, allied to rumors of fresh indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, pushing Trump into a “cocoon of bitterness and resentment,” officials told The LA Times.
His mood was reportedly blackened by French President Emmanuel Macron’s seemingly personal attack during a speech in Paris over the weekend, and negative press coverage about Trump’s failure to visit American graves during his trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I.
In the days since, Trump has reportedly scrapped meetings and canceled trips — including the traditional presidential visit to Arlington Cemetery for Veterans Day. Staff inside the West Wing are trying to avoid the president, The Post reports, with the threat of firings hanging over the heads of even the most senior officials.
Trump has already decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to The New York Times, and is seriously considering replacing his chief of staff John Kelly.
“He’s furious,” one administration official told the LA Times. “Most staffers are trying to avoid him.”
Trump also appears uninterested in fulfilling his presidential duties.
He failed to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah Tuesday, sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instead. Trump has also canceled a trip to Colombia and is letting Secretary of Defense James Mattis visit troops on the border alone.
Why is Trump so “furious”? Here are a number of reasons:
- The midterms: Last week’s vote was a “big victory” for the Republicans, Trump said publicly. In private, he is reportedly worried about Democrats gaining control of the House and the investigations they could launch into his administration. He is also brooding about the recount in Florida and key races being called for Democrats.
- Macron: Trump spent a testy 43 hours in France, including attending a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War In which Macron spoke of the dangers of rising nationalism. Trump took this as a direct attack on him — and lashed out Monday on Twitter.
- Mueller: Trump gambled that replacing Jeff Sessions with loyalist Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general may help him. But the appointment has been criticized by both sides of the aisle, and a legal challenge has already been filed in Maryland. Meanwhile, Mueller’s investigation is set to bring more indictments this week.
- Trade: In his interactions with world leaders over the last week, Trump railed against the perceived injustice perpetrated against the U.S. over trade imbalances. A report published Wednesday concluding that “China’s technology-manufacturing strength threatens U.S. national security” is unlikely to lift the mood.
- Iran: The lack of action on Iran to curb its nuclear capabilities continues to vex Trump. While National Security Adviser John Bolton promises to "squeeze" Iran "until the pips squeak," Trump believes the rest of the world is not falling in line. In his call with May Friday, he berated the PM for not doing enough to contain Tehran and expressed similar frustrations to Macron during a private meeting in Paris.
Cover image: President Donald Trump visits the Suresnes American Cemetery as part of the Paris commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, France, November 11, 2018. (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Pool)