The US President is angrier than usual and wrecking alliances as those close to him say he's lashing out, even at his own shrinking inner circle.
US President Donald Trump is like a kettle waiting to explode and is becoming increasingly frustrated by his own cabinet and party.
A scathing new assessment by The Washington Post has painted a picture of a leader who is wrecking alliances and inhibiting his legislative agenda.
White House sources and advisers told the publication Trump was lashing out and becoming more annoyed with members of own circle including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
One source compared the President to a whistling teapot and said Trump needed to let off steam otherwise he'd explode.
"I think we are in pressure cooker territory," the source said.
Trump is also said to be angry he hasn't received adequate recognition over his handling of three successive hurricanes.
The picture of a frustrated President comes as Vanity Fair spoke with several Republican and Trump advisers who describe a White House in chaos.
Writer Gabriel Sherman reported several sources had said the President was becoming increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.
A public spat with Senator Bob Corker has helped confirm some views of Trump as "unstable," "losing a step," and "unravelling," Sherman writes.
It also seems Trump doesn't like his team very much. According to Vanity Fair he once told longtime security chief Keith Schiller: "I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!"
Other officials reveal his staff aren't entirely happy either, with chief of staff John Kelly reportedly miserable in his job and only staying put out of a sense of duty.
A high profile spat between the President and longtime ally now rival Corker is further fuelling the divide in the party.
Senator Bob Corker said the President was leading the country into a major global conflict and said Trump was acting "like he's doing The Apprentice or something".
In an interview with the New York Times last Sunday, the Tennessee Republican said Trump's approach concerned him and his reckless threats toward other countries could set the nation "on the path to World War III".
"He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation," Corker said.
In a stinging rebuke against a sitting president, Corker, who chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the President for running his office like a "reality show".
The spat between the former allies could also undermine Trump's legislative agenda, with Corker's vote vital to the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and passing tax reform.
Corker is a respected moderate in the party who once supported Trump, however has become one of the president's most outspoken Republican critics.
He recently said that only the presence of the generals in Trump's inner circle had kept the White House from descending into "chaos".
BATTLE OF THE IQ
Earlier this week Trump challenged Tillerson to "compare IQ tests," which put the spotlight on his seemingly shaky relationship with his top diplomat.
Trump issued the challenge in an interview with Forbes magazine, when asked about reports that Tillerson called him a "moron" after a classified briefing earlier in the year.
The president responded that if the claim was true, the two should duke it out in a battle of brainpower.
However, the White House and the State Department suggested that the President was simply trying to make light of what they describe as inaccurate reports of tension.
The pair have also been on opposite ends of the North Korea spectrum with Tillerson's appeals for diplomacy appearing to be in stark contradiction to his boss's view that negotiating with the country was a waste of time.
The retired general brought in to instil order at a chaotic White House made a rare public appearance to declare he was staying in his post - and to insist that the President's volatile Twitter feed wasn't making his job harder.
"Unless things change, I'm not quitting, I'm not getting fired and I don't think I'll fire anyone tomorrow," chief of staff John Kelly told reporters during a surprise appearance at the daily White House briefing.
"I don't think I'm being fired today, and I'm not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving."
The extraordinary statement drew a bit of laughter, but it reflected ongoing turmoil in the top ranks of a White House riven by staff changes, internal feuds and reports that Gen Kelly is growing increasingly frustrated in his position.
Trump, in turn, has as at times chafed at Gen Kelly's efforts to reign in the freewheeling, open-door style that marked his business career and early months in the White House.
The president has also taken to leaving the Oval Office at times to engage aides, solicit opinions and re-create the unfettered feeling he has told allies he misses, according to two people have spoken recently to the president but were not authorised to discuss private conversations.
Gen Kelly pushed back against recent reports that he and Trump were clashing but acknowledged he has organised the White House more tightly and changed how people interact with the president.
"I restrict no one, by the way, from going in to see him," Gen Kelly said.
"But when we go in to see him now, rather than the onesies and twosies, we go in and help him collectively understand what - what he needs to understand to make these vital decisions."
Gen Kelly also called his chief of staff position the hardest and the most important job he's ever held, but not the best one.
Trump has grown irritated with some of the restrictions placed on him by his chief of staff and has vented to friends that he does not like the media depiction of him cleaning up a dysfunctional White House, according to the people who have spoken with him.
Gen Kelly, meanwhile, has been dismayed by Trump's sniping at fellow Republicans and his focus on culture war issues, like NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, that distract from his legislative agenda.
- with the Associated Press, AFP