Imagine you’re in a meeting with your boss, an erratic, petulant egomaniac, averse to reading, prone to angry outbursts and known for an acutely short attention span. Then imagine your boss is the president of the United States. That, according to “Anonymous,” a self-described senior administration official and the author of an upcoming book, is the dilemma for those who work for President Trump inside the White House.
“People who spend any time with Donald Trump are [made] uncomfortable by what they witness,” the author writes. “He stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity.”
The author is the same person who wrote a controversial op-ed in the New York Times last year, saying he and other top appointees were working in secret to thwart some of Trump’s most outrageous ideas. Excerpts of the book, “A Warning,” were published Thursday by several news outlets, including the Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and HuffPost.
According to the book, administration officials would often strategize before and after meetings with Trump, who is likened to a “twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.”
The author describes the evolving process of trying to brief the president.
“Early on, briefers were told not to send lengthy documents. Trump wouldn’t read them,” the author writes. “Nor should they bring summaries to the Oval Office. If they must bring paper, then PowerPoint was preferred because he is a visual learner. Okay, that’s fine, many thought to themselves, leaders like to absorb information in different ways.
“Then officials were told that PowerPoint decks needed to be slimmed down,” the author continues. “He needed more images to keep his interest — and fewer words. Then they were told to cut back the overall message (on complicated issues such as military readiness or the federal budget) to just three main points. Eh, that was still too much.
“Soon West Wing aides were exchanging ‘best practices’ for success in the Oval Office,” the author adds. “The most salient advice? Forget the three points. Come in with one main point and repeat it — over and over again, even if the president inevitably goes off on tangents — until he gets it. Just keep steering the subject back to it. ONE point.”
The White House issued a blanket statement blasting the book and its anonymous author.
“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. Separately, the Justice Department sent a letter to the book’s publisher warning that the unnamed author may be violating “one or more nondisclosure agreements” by writing the book.
The author also describes what it was like in the West Wing waking up to Trump’s early-morning Twitter tirades.
“It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him,” the author writes. “You’re stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time.”
Trump’s behavior can be so erratic, the author says, top administration officials have pre-written resignation letters. A group even considered a mass resignation over Trump’s response to the deadly 2017 white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., the author claims.
White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Vice President Mike Pence listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office, April 2, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Vice President Mike Pence listen as Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office in April. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
In the Times op-ed, titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the author said senior Trump officials were “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” in order to “preserve our democratic institutions.”
“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author wrote in the op-ed.
In the new book, the author says it was a mistake to offer such reassurances.
“I was wrong about the ‘quiet resistance’ inside the Trump administration,” the author writes now. “Unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style. He is who he is.”