Politico has a very interesting article on all the game playing in the Tyrant House, and just how easy it is to play the Unpresident. This is a man who does not actually read (Yes, he skims newspapers, primarily for mentions of himself), and doesn’t use the internet for anything handy, like finding things out. So, anything can be slipped under his nose, and he often predictably reacts, not caring whether or not what was slipped under his nose is in any way true. The Tiny Tyrant’s “policy” of having open doors all over, and allowing for haphazard, um, information land on his desk not only results in idiocy and chaos, it allows for staffers to stab other staffers in the back quite efficiently. Back stabbing becomes surprisingly easy when there’s a reactionary idiot at the helm.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a stern warning at a recent senior staff meeting: Quit trying to secretly slip stuff to President Trump.
Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.
Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.
The episode illustrates the impossible mission of managing a White House led by an impetuous president who has resisted structure and strictures his entire adult life.
While the information stream to past commanders-in-chief has been tightly monitored, Trump prefers an open Oval Office with a free flow of ideas and inputs from both official and unofficial channels. And he often does not differentiate between the two. Aides sometimes slip him stories to press their advantage on policy; other times they do so to gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.
The consequences can be tremendous, according to a half-dozen White House officials and others with direct interactions with the president. A news story tucked into Trump’s hands at the right moment can torpedo an appointment or redirect the president’s entire agenda. Current and former Trump officials say Trump can react volcanically to negative press clips, especially those with damaging leaks, becoming engrossed in finding out where they originated.
When Trump bellows about this or that story, his aides often scramble in a game of cat-and-mouse to figure out who alerted the president to the piece in the first place given that he rarely browses the Internet on his own. Some in the White House describe getting angry calls from the president and then hustling over to Trump’s personal secretary, Madeleine Westerhout, to ferret who exactly had just paid a visit to the Oval Office and possibly set Trump off.
Priebus and White House staff secretary Rob Porter have tried to implement a system to manage and document the paperwork Trump receives. While some see the new structure as a power play by a weakened chief of staff – “He’d like to get a phone log too,” cracked one senior White House adviser—others are more concerned about the unfettered ability of Trump’s family-member advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, to ply the president with whatever paperwork they want in the residence sight unseen.
“They have this system in place to get things on his desk now,” the same White House official said. “I’m not sure anyone follows it.”
Priebus has implored staff to do so in order to abide by presidential record-keeping laws, which require cataloguing what the president sees for the archives.
Lisa Brown, who served as White House staff secretary under President Barack Obama for two years, said it can be “dangerous” when people make end-runs around paperwork procedures, leaving the president with incomplete or one-sided information at key junctures.
“It’s even more important with someone like this,” she said of Trump, a president notoriously influenced by the last person he has spoken to, “but the challenge is he has to buy into it.”
“You know that people are going to go around the system. But then it’s up to the principal to decide how to handle it,” Brown added. “You need the president to say ‘thanks, I appreciate it’ [when he receives stories] and to hand it off to get it into a process.”
The article is dismal facepalm material, but we need to be aware of the compleat clusterfuck which is the Tyrant House. Recommended Reading, full story at Politico.