For the rest of the country, Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s capital — a political haven for all that’s good and just about everything that’s wrong with politics. However, they can read or watch from afar.
City residents, living in the shadows of a chaotic White House and not knowing what to expect next, don’t have that luxury.
“You could not have painted a more worst-case scenario,” said Sandra Parker, 51, a personal assistant who works about six blocks from Capitol Hill. “This president is rewriting the history books for all the wrong reasons and you have to wonder when even the Republicans are going to get tired of this and start to feel the same kind of fear we all do.”
Donald Sawyer, a cable technician who lives in Southeast, said Trump’s behavior not only leaves a lot to be desired from a leader, but could result in the president seeking therapy of some sort.
“He appears to be unstable, which is what [former rival] Hillary Clinton said about him during the campaign,” said Sawyer, 44. “And it’s that craziness, that instability, that has many people — including me — a bit afraid. After all, this man has the code to nuclear weapons and he has the primary say-so in life-changing decisions.”
Fueling the fear, angst and uncertainty has been the firing of FBI Director James Comey who had been investigating possible ties Trump’s campaign had with Russia and that country’s interference with the 2016 election.
Then, troubling reports came from two prolific media organizations — The New York Times and The Washington Post — both of which reported that the president had shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting at the White House.
The president revealed information about an Islamic State, or ISIS, plot to blow up airplanes using bombs hidden inside laptops — information reportedly provided by Israel, whose intelligence sources may have been put at risk by Trump’s disclosure.
Trump seems to have disclosed the information spontaneously, in the middle of a conversation, rather than as part of a strategy, Slate Magazine reported.
Top White House officials issued denials that didn’t actually challenge contention that Trump shared classified information, the magazine said.
The next morning, Trump took to Twitter to confirm that he had, in fact, shared information with Russian officials related to terrorism and airline safety — and to insist there’s nothing wrong with that.
An Israeli intelligence officer told BuzzFeed the revelation that the president had given away information to Russia amounted to the country’s “worst fears confirmed.”
Israel shares lots of intelligence with the United States that it doesn’t want to get back to Moscow — which it fears could pass it on to Iran.
Numerous U.S. officials also told the Wall Street Journal the intelligence came from “the most valuable source of information on external plotting by Islamic State.”
“Trump obstruction of justice? Pretty close,” D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton tweeted, noting she’s ready to “dig for answers” at an Oversight Committee hearing on FBI independence scheduled this week.
“In revealing highly classified intel to Russians, Trump owned up to judgment flaws that put the nation at risk if no gatekeeper is found,” Norton said.
The intelligence finding that Trump divulged to Russian officials involved an advance in bomb making developed by the Islamic State that could be used against commercial aircraft, according to a U.S. official.
Operatives from the Islamic State have determined how to implant and mask an explosive inside the battery of a laptop computer, increasing the likelihood that a bomb can be slipped past screeners onto an airplane, USA Today reported.
The battery with the explosive charge still functions enough to allow airport security officials to power up the laptop, a standard test to determine if the machine is safe, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because officials are not authorized to speak publicly about intelligence matters.
Still, it’s all enough to make local residents and those living across the country shudder.
“Yes, I think it’s fair to say that people are scared,” said Mimi Fletcher, a civilian government employee in the District. “Barring Paul Ryan or other Republicans growing some [courage], we just have to hope for a miracle.
“That miracle is that either Trump stops the madness or resigns,” she said. “Odds are firmly against either of those happening, though.”