The president’s staff attempts to sway his opinion by strategically passing along articles that play to his ego and deep paranoia, even if they’re fake, according to a Politico report Monday.
The outlet cited a half-dozen White House officials “and others with direct interactions with the president” who described the consequences of Trump’s unusually porous Oval Office.
Politico cited four instances of individuals close to the President offering reading material to further their own agendas; two instances included fake or unproven claims.
In one, Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland gave Trump an image showing two Time magazine covers; a recent one about global warming, and one from the 1970s warning of a coming “Ice Age.” The latter cover is an internet hoax, but, Politico reported, “Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy.”
In another case, well-known conspiracist Charles C. Johnson alleged without any evidence that deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh was “the source behind a bunch of leaks.” Walsh has since left the White House. Politico reported that “Trump read the article and began asking staff about Walsh.”
The unblinking support of Trump’s often-unsupported whims by staff eager for his favor recalled an interview by PRI with the authors of an Economist interview with Trump on Friday. One of them, David Rennie, noted that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin actually echoed Trump’s falsehood that China stopped manipulating its currency in response to his criticism during the campaign. (Actually, it happened years ago.)
Rennie recalled that Mnuchin, who had an extensive career as an investor before joining Trump’s Cabinet, said: “Oh yeah. The day he became president, they changed their behavior!”
Politico noted two other instances in which a well-placed article caused major changes: Trump reportedly personally intervened to stop the hiring of Elliot Abrams as deputy secretary of state after someone in Trump’s “orbit” showed him Abrams’ criticism of him in the Weekly Standard.
And, after former advisers to Trump wrote an op-ed in the New York Times supportive of a tax overhaul, Trump immediately made it a top priority. Two days after its publishing, “startling his own aides who had not yet prepared such a plan,” according to Politico, Trump told the Associated Press to expect an announcement on taxes by the following week — the result was a one page outline of a plan, in time for Trump’s 100th day in office.