Turmoil fuels schism between Trump’s White House and Republican party

Legislative agenda appears stalled and after purge of establishment Republicans from White House staff, many in GOP are becoming more open in their criticism

Reince Priebus, shortly before he was fired as White House chief of staff on Friday. His dismissal, as well as Trump’s targeting of Jeff Sessions, has rankled establishment Republicans. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Donald Trump’s presidency was this weekend facing fresh turmoil after a week of unadulterated disasters that culminated in the removal of his chief of staff.

With his legislative agenda stalled and his White House descending into civil war, Trump appeared to be losing support in a Republican party that had previously rallied round him.

Senior Republicans in Congress scolded the president over his threat to fire the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and voted in favour of tougher sanctions against Russia, thwarting Trump’s attempts to seek warmer relations with Vladimir Putin.

The president was also under siege over his abrupt Twitter announcement that transgender people would be banned from the military and his wildly unscripted remarks in set-piece speeches, one of which appeared to endorse police brutality.

Commentators said the past week was the worst endured by any US president in living memory and warned that as Trump becomes increasingly isolated and volatile, the situation could rapidly deteriorate – especially if he is tested by an international crisis.

Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and broadcaster, said: “You have a White House in meltdown because the president is a pyromaniac.”

Frustrated by the failure of his healthcare bill in the Senate, Trump on Saturday used Twitter to demand a change in the Senate rules that would make it easier for the majority party to pass legislation.

“Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW!” he wrote. “It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country. 200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE!

“If the Senate Democrats ever got the chance, they would switch to a 51 majority vote in first minute. They are laughing at R’s [Republicans]. MAKE CHANGE!”

Trump has mused about Senate procedure before, returning to the issue whenever particularly frustrated with Congress and in doing so demonstrating a shaky understanding of how the upper chamber works.

The Republican healthcare law failed because the party could not muster 50 votes from within its own 52-strong group, using a special budget process called reconciliation…

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