WaPo: Some Trump Aides Attempt To Delay President’s Worst Impulses

Alex Brandon/AP

After Sen. Bob Corker’s charge last week that the Trump White House is run like an “adult day care center,” the Washington Post reported out some of the details behind Corker’s charge on Monday.

Primarily, the Post reported, Trump’s advisers during the 2016 campaign and in the early months of his presidency have attempted to distance the 71-year-old from his worst impulses.

During the campaign, according to the Post, aides would present Trump will polls showing how unpopular a particular controversy was. During the presidential transition, they created shortlists of options for Trump and “urged him to choose one.” In the White House, aides have used delay tactics.

For example, when the President suggested that South Korea pay for a billion-dollar missile defense system — “We’re going to protect them,” he told Reuters, “but they should pay for that, and they understand that” — National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had his staff study the idea, which would be a dramatic and harsh departure from the deal established during the Obama administration. 

Two unnamed sources told the Post that McMaster and his aides formulated arguments surrounding the existing deal’s benefit to the U.S. economy. Trump eventually backed off the offer.

An unnamed administration official told the Post: “He plays rope-a-dope with him […] He thinks Trump is going to forget, but he doesn’t. H.R.’s strategy is to say, ‘Let us study that, boss.’ He tries to deflect.”

Sam Nunberg, who was fired from the Trump campaign in 2015, confirmed that he also used the delay tactic with Trump.

“And the majority of the time he would tell me, ‘Let’s wait and reconsider,’ and I would prepare the cons for him to consider — and he would do what he wanted to do,” Nunberg said. “Sometimes he would still go with the decision I may have disagreed with, and other times he would change his mind.”

Another nugget, if a well-established one, in the Post’s reporting: Trump’s frustration with top congressional Republicans extends to mockery behind closed doors.

According to the paper, Trump mocked top House and Senate Republicans Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after they showed frustration at his dealmaking with Democrats.

“In subsequent days behind closed doors, the president mocked the reactions of McConnell and Ryan from the meeting with an exaggerated crossing of his arms and theatrical frowns,” the Post reported.

Read the Post’s full report here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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