Politics

Trump Denies ‘Chaos’ in White House, Then Signals More Staff Upheaval

President warns North Korea concessions could amount to ‘false hope’

President Donald Trump signs a copy of the book 'Let Trump Be Trump' in the House chamber after his State of the Union address in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated at 9:19 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed there is “no chaos” inside the White House, but also signaled he is poised to again shake up his West Wing staff.

On a morning when North Korea agreed to freeze nuclear arms and long-range missile tests ahead of coming talks with South Korea — and possibly his administration — Trump initially focused his morning social media posts on other matters. He again showed how much of his actions are based on how he feels the media is portraying his presidency.

“The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong!” he wrote. “People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision.”

Yet, Trump appeared to again contradict himself and step on an intended message when he then put his entire staff on notice by vaguely predicting additional staff changes — initiated by him.

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“I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!” Trump tweeted.

But the events of the last several weeks show evidence of a return to turbulence inside the West Wing.

Last Wednesday, Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of the president’s most-trusted aides and confidants, announced her resignation a day after she testified before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia election meddling probe. That followed a freewheeling meeting among Trump and members of both parties on gun violence during which the president sided with Democratic lawmakers, frustrating Republicans.

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Then on Friday, minutes after Trump departed for Billy Graham’s funeral in Charlotte then his south Florida resort, the White House invited reporters to a chat with Chief of Staff John Kelly.

That meeting was supposed to be off-the-record, but Kelly allowed part of the conversation to be publishable; he only added more confusion to the Rob Porter domestic violence scandal by again altering the White House’s official timeline surrounding his departure last month.

And that came a day after the chief of staff, who at times has reportedly been in Trump’s sights to be fired, said during a public event that he was being punished for taking the job.

“Truly, six months, the last thing I wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of Homeland Security, but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess,” Kelly said at a DHS forum.

The commander in chief addressed North Korea’s move toward talks, first with one of his favorite lines when he does not want to take a hard stance, tweeting: “We will see what happens!”

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One of the North Korean government’s demands for any talks is that its security be guaranteed if it gives up its atomic arms and missiles. Yet, Trump opted Tuesday morning against taking credit and pinning that ask on his tough talk — especially his threats to attack or even use U.S. nuclear weapons against the North.

Instead, he appeared eager to set low expectations from any negotiations.

Trump called the apparent concessions by the North Korean government ahead of talks with South Korea “possible progress,” but he also warned the developments merely could be “false hope.”

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“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”

One Democratic member is not counting on Trump being able to cut a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted he is “rooting for success AND equally prepared for @realDonaldTrump to screw it up.”

Swalwell contends that any progress the Trump administration has made on North Korea has been “followed by fumbles.” He pleaded with the president to “be an adult and get this done.”

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