Efforts by legitimate government professionals to shield President Donald Trump from the consequences of his own toxic impulses have been underway for nearly three years.
Results are mixed.
These days Trump is calling a thoroughly legal impeachment process an illegal "coup" attempt.
Nobody with basic knowledge of the nation's founding principles seriously believes Congress cannot impeach a president. In this case, the president here is surely running off at the tweets rather than heeding competent advice.
As always, this national uproar will be about Trump alone. As always, he must call his rivals villains. As always, the executive branch is to be his personal sandbox. As always, his campaign seeks to build McCarthyistic fear of internal "enemies" no matter what.
He will make sure of that, but sometimes, sane advice can offset his ugliest urges.
Underlings have come out and said he flew into rages over the nation's "porous" borders and even discussed shooting to wound migrants or using alligators and snakes as deterrents before being talked down.
"The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button," Trump's former Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan cautiously told The New York Times. "The president wanted it to be fixed quickly."
Earlier on, Trump was prevented internally from using a false conflict-of-interest claim to set up the firing of then-special counsel Robert Mueller, according to the sworn testimony of those Trump had sought out for the mission.
Trying to protect the boss from himself doesn't always work. Tom Bossert, Trump's former homeland security adviser, lost his effort to talk the president off the Ukraine ledge.
Ginned up in part by conspiracy "information" from personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Trump has used his elected office and spent tax dollars chasing the idea that the whole probe of Russian help for his 2016 campaign grew out of Democratic intrigue in Ukraine.
Bossert said he told Trump this was baseless. Bossert also has said publicly he was "deeply disturbed" by Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president on that subject.
Trump as president may have sought help from Eastern European prosecutors for the same reason Trump as businessman hooked up with an Eastern Europe-oriented bank: Americans following protocol wouldn't give him what he wanted.
Sometimes his advisers urge Trump to sideline or ignore other, rival aides. This, too, has mixed success. This week The Wall Street Journal described how Attorney General William Barr looked askance at Giuliani making a televised spectacle of himself, but the former mayor talks on.
Now there is chatter out of Washington that the "guardrails" have come off the Oval Office with the departure of those willing to resist full immersion in his cult of personality. Whether that analysis proves accurate or even matters at this point remains to be seen.