An unnamed White House source told Vanity Fair that President Donald Trump believes he will not be re-elected if the border wall isn’t built and has turned the issue into his “personal Alamo.”
The aide said that Trump had told senior White House officials that he was prepared to make a “last stand” over the wall and was willing to stake his entire presidency on the issue. But he also voiced fears that the president was boxing himself in with the enforced government shutdown and is setting himself up for a fall.
“The president put himself in a box,” the former official told the magazine. “The problem is there’s no endgame. Right now, the White House is at a seven on the panic scale. If this thing goes on past the State of the Union, they’re going to be at an 11.”
The State of the Union address is currently scheduled to take place on January 29. If the current government shutdown is continuing, then it will have been going on for 38 days. That would be 17 days longer than the current record shutdown which lasted for 21 days in 1995 and 1996.
Trump’s siege mentality is also reportedly making some congressional Republicans increasingly worried, too. Vanity Fair also quoted someone close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that he believed the White House’s handling of the shutdown standoff was “total f**king chaos.”
The revelations come as Trump prepares to visit the border at McAllen, Texas, on Thursday. But even that trip has descended into chaos after Trump reportedly described it as a “pointless photo opportunity” in an off-the-record briefing with journalists.
A source in the room told the New York Times that Trump has said, “It’s not going to change a d**n thing, but I’m still doing it… these people behind you say it’s worth it,” before gesturing toward his communication aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway.
In the same article, Vanity Fair also claimed that Trump’s new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who only took the job just before Christmas, is already considering his position.
Mulvaney has always said he wouldn’t be afraid to walk away if things were going in a bad direction, and a source close to him told the magazine, “so far, Trump has been more DIY than ever before. It’s a continuation of where things left off with Kelly. Mulvaney is not going to stick around and get ground up.”