Developments on Day 352 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Reacts to Concerns Over His Fitness for Office

Stung by concerns over his mental state, spurred by a tell-all book about his Administration, Donald Trump assures followers on Twitter that he is a genius.

Trump’s outburst on Saturday morning came minutes after a Fox News report on the questions over his competence and character. Wtiting from Camp David, Maryland, where he had met with GOP lawmakers, he insisted — apparently forgetting that he also ran for President in 2000:

During a news conference alongside the Republican legislators later in the day, Trump maintained his personal campaign:

Only because I went to the best colleges, the best college, I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top businesspeople, went to television for 10 years and was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won.

Vice President Mike Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy looked on stone-faced, while Republican House Whip Steve Scalise appeared bemused, as Trump blamed his former close ally and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, “It was one of those things. I guess that’s why Sloppy Steve is now looking for a job.”

Is Trump Only Compounding the Worries?

There have been worries over Trump’s intelligence and fitness, including from officials inside his Administration, since soon after he took office in January 2017. Sources have spoken of his disinterest or inability to take in even basic information, including his dislike of reading, and his volatile temperament. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called him a “fucking moron”, and Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster have a pact that at least one of them must be in Washington DC at all times. Among those who have gone public with concerns is Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Commmittee, who has questioned Trump’s stability, including his responsibility for America’s nuclear arsenal.

See VideoCast with CNN: Trump, Bannon, and the Russia Investigation
Podcast: How Trump’s Reaction to a “Loser” Book Backs Up Its Portrayal

The concerns were highlighted last week by a series of Trump’s tweets — including his attempt to undermine the FBI over the Trump-Russia investigation, his climate change denial, and his declaration that he has a bigger “nuclear button” than North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — and then by extract from Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump Administration.

Instead of stepping back, Trump reacted with declarations that only compounded concerns. He assailed Wolff and Bannon, whose interviews for the book including criticism of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and the description of a “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort with Kremlin-linked envoys:

The White House appeared to be caught off guard on Saturday by Trump’s latest fury. Chief of Staff John Kelly said at noon that he hadn’t yet seen or heard of the tweet, and offered only a clipped “OK” when reporters read them to him.

Trump on Trump-Russia Inquiry: “Everything I’ve Done is 100% Proper”

At the press conference, Trump tried to defend himself against the latest revelation that he may have obstructed justice in the Trump-Russia investigation.

He insisted, “Everything I’ve done is 100% proper. That is what I do, is I do things proper….There’s been no collusion, there’s been no crime.”

The New York Times and CNN reported on Friday that Trump ordered White House staff to press Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from oversight of the inquiry.

Sessions was under pressure in March to step aside because of his contacts during the 2016 campaign with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But White House attorney Don McGahn, Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer all called the Attorney General in an effort to keep him in charge of the investgation, according to White House officials.

Trump insisted that The New York Times article was “off”, but did not explain why.

See TrumpWatch, Day 351: Obstruction of Justice? Trump Tried to Block Sessions Recusal from Trump-Russia Inquiry