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    Trump Administration Trying to Restrain the President - Associate Professor

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    US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to criticize a book, titled "Fear: Trump in the White House, by former Watergate reporter Bob Woodward. Trump wrote that the book had been refuted and discredited by some of the people it quoted. In the book, Woodward stated that the White House under President Trump has become dysfunctional.

    Sputnik has discussed this with Brendon O'Connor, Associate Professor in American Politics at University of Sydney's United States Studies Center.

    Sputnik: The Trump administration has been harshly criticized especially in the upcoming book by Bob Woodward — the book entitled "Fear" — who called the whole administration "dysfunctional", what's your opinion on the backlash regarding the administration has?

    Brendon O'Connor: I think the picture that Bob Woodward has painted is a pretty commonly known one. I think it's probably likely to be relatively accurate and it's not really particularly any news. We had "Fire and Fury" and then some of the reports that we see sort of coming out weekly, from The New York Times and Axios, and some of the good insider reporters.

    But it's important because it's Bob Woodward. He puts out a book or two on each president and he has the stature since the Watergate affair that he's listened to in a way that other reporters are not listened to. So it just means that the people within the Republican Party have held the line on Donald Trump, and sort of held her noise to some extent and said: "We don't really trust this guy, we're not sure if he's the best person that was ever in the Oval Office, but we will put up with him." Whether those people are going to break ranks is really the interesting story here.

    Sputnik: But what's your take then yourself on President Trump‘s administration and the way it's been functioning?

    Brendon O'Connor: Well, I think it's an administration that tries to restrain the president. I think that's quite clear; that Trump is an erratic figure. We see this in the tweets, so we don't need to be living in the White House to know this. We've seen a very high turnover of staff; a very unusual number of people that have come in and out of the administration in under two years.

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    We see Trump getting angry at the media quite easily. We see that Trump, when he goes abroad, creates a lot of controversy, and a lot of his visits to allies, like the UK visit recently, when he criticized the Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, to one of the main newspapers in the UK while he was visiting her was kind of extraordinary and undiplomatic. So this is an unusual president; someone who takes a very different approach. But I think what the picture we get is that his staff, particularly, his Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Defense play a pretty big role in restraining Trump.

    Sputnik: The harsh rhetoric against Trump has recently intensified especially from the mainstream media, are the mainstream media ratcheting it up even further? They've always been anti-Trump, but it seems to be quite vociferous now, is there specific reasons for that?

    Brendon O'Connor: There's obviously a great antagonism between stations like CNN and The New York Times, The Washington Post and Donald Trump. But The New York Times has got a bit of a coup this week that someone within the Trump administration has written an anonymous letter saying: "Look, I'm a senior administration person and on a daily basis I try to stop the president from doing erratic, childish things." And so this has further got under Trump's skin this week on top of what will be a bestseller book from Bob Woodward with kinds of massive amounts of coverage.

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    This isn't a good week for Trump with his battle with the media. I mean, it is likely to be a kind of distraction and Trump will go in another direction. He's kind of a master of the theatrics of these situations; but I think there will be pressure from the Republicans to say, look, was the example of John McCain, who clearly didn't like Donald Trump, and said a few barbs in that last letter before he died, will there be other Republicans who say well we don't really want Trump to campaign with us. And that's a crucial question here because America isn't too far away from a mid-term election in November of this year.

    Sputnik: In your view how satisfied is the party with the Trump administration or is it completely split down the middle like the actual population of America?

    Brendon O'Connor: Well, I think the Republicans have always been pretty unhappy with Trump being their candidate. There was no great love for him during the primaries and then there was a sense I think by the US Congress that maybe they could use Trump to get some of their policies through, like the tax cut policies for corporate America and wealthier Americans. So there was a relationship of convenience for a time. Now on the campaign trail, I think they'll be those who are more like Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader, who are traditional Republicans and want to not have a lot to do with Trump but won't criticize him.

    And then there will be Republicans who will say: "We are Trump style Republicans, we want to repeat what Trump did two years ago."

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    So there'll be different types of Republicans running depending on the race and what will be interesting is whether they want to invite Trump along to campaign with them, and that will be a real test of his presidential strength; how many major Republicans say: "Look, maybe you should stay at home, Donald Trump, and not come to Iowa or Ohio or wherever it might be and campaign with me."

    But there have been some candidates like there is a Republican Senate candidate for Florida who's taken this very pro-Trump view and wants Trump to come and campaign with him.

    Sputnik: Now mid-term elections sometimes tend to act as a referendum and obviously this is going to be the case for any president but even more so for Donald Trump, depending on the election's outcome, what would this mean for the White House?

    Brendon O'Connor: I think the first point about the mid-term elections is it that if the Democrats win the House of Representatives it's very likely that Trump is going to face some impeachment hearings, and that's not something you want to have against your historical record — potentially impeached.

    It will be hard because the Senate has to vote on a 2/3 basis, but I don't think it'll be that hard for the House to find something out of the Mueller inquiry to impeach Trump; whether he'll go on trial in the Senate and he may be able to survive that, but that will just create more controversy. People like Hillary Clinton in the future who are not maybe the most charismatic politicians may benefit from Trump in some way as the public fatigues with this kind of over-the-top, exaggerated sort of personality that Trump has.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Brendon O'Connor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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