For Many, Life in Trump’s Orbit Ends in a Crash Landing

For Many, Life in Trump’s Orbit Ends in a Crash Landing, by Peter Baker.

Another day, another casualty. Or two.

By the time the sun set Thursday, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson was a failed cabinet nominee whose life had been picked apart for public consumption, and Michael D. Cohen was back in court facing possible criminal prosecution.

A ride on President Trump’s bullet train can be thrilling, but it is often a brutal journey that leaves some bloodied by the side of the tracks. In only 15 months in office, Mr. Trump has burned through a record number of advisers and associates who have found themselves in legal, professional or personal trouble, or even all three.

Half of the top aides who came to the White House with Mr. Trump in 2017 are gone, many under painful circumstances, either because they fell out with the boss or came under the harsh scrutiny that comes with him. Some of the president’s longest-serving aides have left with bruises. His son and son-in-law have hired lawyers and been interrogated. Even his lawyers now have lawyers as they face inquiries of their own.

Proximity to Mr. Trump has been a crushing experience for many who arrived with stellar careers and independent reputations yet ended up losing so much. Rex W. Tillerson ran the world’s largest energy company. David Shulkin was a respected doctor and a “high priest” of the medical world. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was an admired warrior. So was John F. Kelly. Jeff Sessions held a safe seat in Congress. So did Tom Price. Now all of them are known for unhappy associations with Mr. Trump.

All of them, of course, had varying degrees of responsibility for the troubles that would ultimately befall them. But like Dr. Jackson and Mr. Cohen, they have all emerged from the other end of Mr. Trump’s world deeply damaged. And their collective fate serves as a cautionary tale for those who might otherwise be tempted to join the president’s team but worry that they, too, might pay a price that would be too costly.

Mr. Trump expressed outrage on Thursday about the toll exacted on some people close to him. …

The president attributed it to the toxic atmosphere of the capital, saying he warned Dr. Jackson. “I did say welcome to Washington,” he said. “Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics.”

Warning from the swamp: don’t help Trump or get involved.