White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is at the center of mounting frustration among White House and Trump campaign staffers in light of his recent remarks that have further bungled the administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans thus far.
White House staffers aired their grievances towards Meadows in a Washington Post report published Monday, saying that the chief of staff has sent mixed messages regarding COVID relief negotiations, muddling details of Trump’s hospitalization at Walter Reed for COVID-19 earlier this month and regularly failing to communicate with many parts of the administration.
According to the Post’s report — which cites interviews with 18 White House officials, Trump advisers, Capitol Hill aides and others who spoke on the condition of anonymity — Meadows has told others that he consults “The Gatekeepers,” a book on presidential chiefs of staff by Chris Whipple, who has been recently spotted in the West Wing for meetings recently.
Whipple told the Post, however, that “it’s hard to count the ways Meadows has failed as chief of staff” since his performance in the position “has been an unmitigated disaster.”
The Post reported that frustrations in the West Wing hit a breaking point earlier this month during Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19 at Walter Reed, when Meadows was the sole aide who flew with the President on Oct. 2 to the military hospital.
Four senior administration officials told the Post that Meadows did not communicate to staff regarding the President’s condition; whether the West Wing would partially close and if it’s preferred that they work remotely; what precautions were in place after the COVID-19 outbreak in Trump’s orbit; or the total number of staffers who contracted the coronavirus.
According to the Post, officials said that Meadows slept near Trump at Walter Reed in an ICU bed and largely limited his communication to the President instead of talking to other administration officials.
Minutes after White House physician Dr. Sean Conley held an evasive briefing outside of Walter Reed that painted a rosy picture of Trump’s condition a day after he was admitted, Meadows contradicted Conley by telling reporters anonymously that the President’s vital signs had struggled and expressed uncertainty over a “clear path to recovery.”
As other officials attempted to deny the comments that Meadows made as an unnamed official — and were unaware that it was Meadows who issued them in the first place — the White House chief of staff was soon outed for making the contradictory remarks after camera footage surfaced of him speaking to reporters.
Other examples that White House officials pointed the Post to include Meadows’ involvement in orchestrating the still-infected President’s surprise motorcade publicity stunt outside of Water Reed without telling other staffers — which explains why White House reporters weren’t given the heads up ahead of the PR stunt — and the White House chief of staff’s knowledge of Trump aide Hope Hicks testing positive for COVID-19 for more than eight hours before it was disclosed to the public on Oct. 1, prior to the President’s fundraiser that day in New Jersey.
According to the Post, a person close to Meadows said the White House did not plan to reveal the condition of aides who contracted COVID-19, but always planned to disclose the information if the President became infected.
Aides told the Post that unlike the three previous chiefs of staff, Meadows has an easy rapport with Trump. The aides cited how Meadow often joins the President on his trips. Additionally, Meadows has good relationships with Dan Scavino, who manages the President’s social media message, and as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner compared to previous chiefs.
Trump campaign staffers also share similar frustrations with Meadows, according to CNN on Monday.
A Trump campaign adviser told CNN there is widespread frustration with Meadows over his off-handed admission that the Trump administration is “not going to control” the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden excoriated the White House chief of staff for his “deadly admission” during remarks in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“Everyone was clear that Meadows sh** the bed again,” the adviser told CNN.
According to CNN, Trump was and still is displeased over Meadows’ contradictory remarks outside of Walter Reed earlier this month, despite how the President has denied that he’s planning to boot Meadows in a potential second term.
“Every time we build some momentum, Meadows f***s it up with an interview,” the adviser told CNN.
A separate adviser told CNN that it’s probably best that Meadows not appear on TV between now and next week’s election, though Meadows has signaled he would appear on CBS and ABC on Tuesday.
Multiple officials told CNN that Meadows’ inability to keep his messaging on track demonstrates his diminished standing inside the building.