When Trump threw a tantrum, his aides used the new Muslim ban to cheer him up
Trump was reportedly furious that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had succumbed to pressure and recused himself from any Justice Department investigation into contacts between Trump's camp and Russia. Trump was so mad about it that he took it out on his senior staff Friday, upbraiding aides in an Oval Office meeting. As a result, at least one member of his inner circle did not go to Florida for the weekend as planned.
Firmly ensconced in his swank Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida by Saturday morning, Trump went on a bizarre Twitter rant accusing, without evidence, then-President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower telephones during last year's presidential campaign ("McCarthyism," Trump strangely called it). Trump's team grumbled to the media that they didn't know what information the allegation — which an Obama spokesperson flatly denied — was based on.
"He was pissed," Christopher Ruddy, the head of the right-wing news outlet Newsmax, told the Washington Post of his two encounters with Trump on Saturday at Mar-A-Lago. "I haven't seen him this angry."
All of this — and it wasn't even Sunday yet.
That night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had dinner with Sessions, [chief strategic adviser Stephen] Bannon, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, among others. They tried to put Trump in a better mood by going over their implementation plans for the travel ban, according to a White House official.
Trump's staff, then, tried to lift his mood by talking about the upcoming reinstatement of the so-called Muslim ban — the latest iteration of the president's attempt to fulfill a campaign promise to bar travel to the United States for refugees and citizens of a handful of Muslim countries.
In January, shortly after taking office, Trump issued an executive order to impose his travel ban — ensnaring hundreds of would-be travelers. But the administration sowed confusion and chaos by failing to give clear directives. The ban also sparked massive, nationwide protests and activism geared toward legal challenges. Opponents of the ban quickly amassed victories in court, culminating in a stay of the entire executive order that an appeals court upheld over the administration's objections.
Despite the botched rollout of the initial ban, the Trump administration has been planning to reissue the executive order in a "streamlined" version. An announcement about the reimposition of the ban is reportedly expected on Monday.
That would be the subject of conversation which Trump's aides used to boost his spirits on Saturday night. "Trump was brighter Sunday morning as he read several newspapers, pleased that his allegations against Obama were the dominant story," the Washington Post reported, citing a White House official.
But his bright mood dimmed quickly. Trump "found reason to be mad again" Sunday morning, the Washington Post said. His twitter rant had dominated the news cycle, but fellow Republicans were failing to vociferously defend the president's allegations.