epaselect epa05747103 US President Donald Trump (F), with White House chief of staff Reince Pribus (L), counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (2L),...
SHAWN THEW

What most voters and Trump’s White House aides have in common

About 48 hours after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the nation’s new president, Politico ran a piece quoting people close to him describing Trump as a petulant child. He “gets bored and likes to watch TV,” the article noted, and “aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House.”

Trump had been in the White House for all of two days.

Soon after, an Axios report quoted presidential aides “jamming his schedule with meetings” in order to keep him distracted. A New York Times report, based on interviews with people close to Trump, highlighted the president’s limitless sense of grievance. A Washington Post report – based on “interviews with nearly a dozen senior White House officials and other Trump advisers and confidants” – characterized him as lazy and petty.

All of these reports were published midway through Trump’s first week in office, which raises all kinds of questions about the president, but just as importantly, they suggest Trump’s own team seems a little too eager to dish to the press about their unprepared boss.

It led Vox’s Yochi Dreazen to raise a good point: many of Trump’s own aides “seem to dislike him as much Democrats do.”
In most administrations, senior White House aides save the most embarrassing stories about the presidents they served for their memoirs. That’s not the case with Trump, whose top aides are already giving reporters reams of damaging information about him.

It’s not entirely clear what those aides hope to gain by painting their boss as a conspiracy-minded, easily distracted, TV-obsessed bully prone to paranoia, feelings of inadequacy, and flashes of blind, irrational anger.
At a certain level, this doesn’t come as too big of a surprise. Throughout his campaign, Trump’s staffers routinely dished about the chaotic cage match at Trump HQ, but I generally assumed the leaks came from aides who expected their candidate to lose.

Now Trump’s the leader of the free world – and staffers wasted no time trashing their presidential boss.

The contrast between this president and his immediate predecessor is incredible. I won’t pretend to have been an insider, hanging out in the halls of the White House, but I chatted fairly often with a number of President Obama’s aides, and each of them always spoke about the then-president with great reverence and respect, even when they knew they wouldn’t be quoted.

It’s impossible to imagine Obama’s staffers telling anyone in media he “gets bored and likes to watch TV,” and “aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House.”

Maybe members of Trump’s team are blasting him behind the scenes in the hopes the negative coverage will wake him up and make clear to the president he’s on the wrong course. Or maybe there’s no ulterior motive and these folks simply can’t believe how ill-suited Trump is for the tasks at hand.

Whatever the case, The New Republic’s Brian Beutler raised an important point: “Members of the White House are concerned enough about Trump’s capacity to do the job that they’ll leak to prominent reporters, but they’re not concerned enough to muster the courage to tell Trump the truth, or to resign.”

At least, that’s the case after one week. I’m expecting quite a bit of turnover in this White House.


Donald Trump and White House

What most voters and Trump's White House aides have in common