WaPo: Trump Camp Built Up Robust DC Policy Shop, Let It Die Of Neglect

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview after a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview after a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

After months of laboring in obscurity and waiting on paychecks that did not arrive, most of Donald Trump’s Washington policy shop quit, with some telling the Washington Post they decided to jump ship after realizing the GOP nominee wasn’t interested in immersive debate prep.

Some staffers said the last straw came following two marathon sessions in early August to plan how to prepare Trump for the upcoming presidential debates, but the campaign abruptly shifted strategies. One former staffer told the paper, “The New York office realized that their candidate would not be receptive to that level of intense preparation.”

The campaign’s interest in policy details quickly waned when Trump secured the party’s nomination after staffers had anticipated a long primary brawl to continue to the summer convention.

Other former staffers, most of whom spoke with the paper anonymously, said that contrary to Trump’s bluster about having legions of policy experts in his camp, the advisers had minimal roles in the campaign.

“The national security advisory board was total nonsense. They had absolutely no say in anything,” one former policy adviser said. “Most of them are just names on paper.”

Ex-staffers also said the policy shop’s leaders, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) chief of staff Rick Dearborn and John Mashburn, former chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), promised they would be paid for their efforts, but the promise was never put in writing. Another former adviser said Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager turned CNN contributor, also promised compensation.

One staffer said, “There were some people who were treating it as a full-time job. I suspect those people were quite astonished when the pay didn’t come through.”

Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign, denied to the Post that any “such oral agreements were made.”

He said the policy shop was “very successful,” but acknowledged the office has shrunk in recent months, which he attributed to the campaign’s major operations gravitating toward Trump Tower in New York.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: