Free advice to Trump aides: Quit while you can

Michelle Goldberg writes: On Monday night, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s widely admired national security adviser, held a hastily convened news conference to try to knock down reports that Mr. Trump had shared highly classified information with Russia — only to have Mr. Trump appear to confirm the reports in two Tuesday morning tweets.

“General McMaster spent decades defending this nation, earning his integrity and honor. Trump squandered it in less than 12 hours,” responded the Republican strategist John Weaver in a tweet. The journalist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, David Frum, asked: “How does McMaster not resign today? That thing he said ‘did not happen’ the president has just defended doing.”

General McMaster may find a way of avoiding that conclusion for now, but — if the yelling from the inmates of the West Wing is anything to go by — the moral and intellectual contortions now required of those who serve in the White House are extracting a heavy cost. It is tempting to believe, for instance, that the president’s press spokesman Sean Spicer will forever be remembered for the evening Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey, when Mr. Spicer cowered among the bushes on the White House grounds to avoid journalists. But in all likelihood, Mr. Spicer will soon find himself at the center of yet another humiliating tableau, one that will supplant that last one in the public consciousness.

After all, before people started decorating their shrubbery with Sean Spicer lawn ornaments, he was best known for the petulant, hectoring and surreally dishonest press briefings that Melissa McCarthy immortalized on “Saturday Night Live.” No one knows the next national joke that will have Mr. Spicer as a punch line, but one thing is clear. As long as he works for this president, he is unlikely to recover his dignity.

The same is true of most people in Mr. Trump’s orbit. To serve this president is to be diminished. [Continue reading…]

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