the week Trump set fire to the White House

What went wrong? Take your pick: healthcare, transgender troops, the fallout from his savaging of Jeff Sessions, the Boy Scouts speech – it was the worst week in Trump’s short presidency

‘Everything that has happened has been self-inflicted’: can Trump ever get out of his own way? Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Donald Trump began the week by turning a national scout jamboree into something resembling a youth rally. He ended it in front of more massed ranks in uniform, telling police officers “please don’t be too nice” to suspects they arrest in what sounded to many like an endorsement of police brutality.

And then, amid a blizzard of stories about White House infighting, chief of staff Reince Priebus resigned, becoming the shortest-serving occupant of the post in history. Though he seemed blithely unaware of it, it was a fitting finale to the worst week of Trump’s short political career.

In five torrid days, the US president alienated conservatives by savaging his own attorney general; earned a rebuke from the Pentagon over a rushed ban on transgender troops; watched impotently as the Senate dealt a crushing blow to his legislative agenda with the fall of healthcare reform; ousted Priebus; and threw a human grenade – the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci – into his already dysfunctional White House.

“This is certainly the week in which the Trump administration went off the rails,” said Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton. “And it’s going to require some heavy lifting equipment to get it back on the rails and off down the track.”

Where to start? The most tangible defeat was over healthcare. Trump had repeatedly promised during his campaign to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But when it came to the tough part, arm-twisting members of Congress or making landmark speeches, the self-proclaimed deal-maker was notably absent.

In the early hours of Friday, after…

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