A Portrait of the White House and Its Culture of Chaos – The New York Times

The White House that emerges from more than 400 pages of Mr. Mueller’s report is a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty — defined by a president who lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him. Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened to fire lieutenants who did not carry out his wishes while they repeatedly threatened to resign rather than cross lines of propriety or law.

At one juncture after another, Mr. Trump made his troubles worse, giving in to anger and grievance and lashing out in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him. He was saved from an accusation of obstruction of justice, the report makes clear, in part because aides saw danger and stopped him from following his own instincts. Based on contemporaneous notes, emails, texts and F.B.I. interviews, the report draws out scene after scene of a White House on the edge.

At one point, Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, said the president’s attacks on his own attorney general meant that he had “D.O.J. by the throat.” At another, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, complained to Mr. Priebus that the president was trying to get him to “do crazy shit.” Mr. Trump was equally unhappy with Mr. McGahn, calling him a “lying bastard.”

From its first days, Mr. Trump’s presidency struggled to contain the threat stemming from Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and suspicions about his team’s contacts with Moscow.

Just weeks after taking office, Mr. Trump pushed out his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who lied to the F.B.I. about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

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