It’s sad that none of the details in Shane Goldmacher’s story about how Trump’s aides deal with him are even surprising anymore:
The consequences can be tremendous, according to a half-dozen White House officials and others with direct interactions with the president. A news story tucked into Trump’s hands at the right moment can torpedo an appointment or redirect the president’s entire agenda. Current and former Trump officials say Trump can react volcanically to negative press clips, especially those with damaging leaks, becoming engrossed in finding out where they originated.
That is what happened in late February when someone mischievously gave the president a printed copy of an article from GotNews.com, the website of Internet provocateur Charles C. Johnson, which accused deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh of being “the source behind a bunch of leaks” in the White House.
He uses the Internet minimally, other than tweeting and tracking his mentions, so what other news stories he sees can be more haphazard. Trump does receive a daily binder of news clippings put together his communications team, but White House officials disagreed about how much he reads those. White House and former campaign aides have tried to make sure Trump’s media diet includes regular doses of praise and positive stories to keep his mood up – a tactic honed by staff during the campaign to keep him from tweeting angrily.
More recently, when four economists who advised Trump during the campaign — Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore — wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “now is the time to move it forward with urgency,” someone in the White House flagged the piece for the president.
Trump summoned staff to talk about it. His message: Make this the tax plan, according to one White House official present.
The op-ed came out on a Wednesday. By Friday, Trump was telling the Associated Press, “I shouldn’t tell you this, but we’re going to be announcing, probably on Wednesday, tax reform,” startling his own aides who had not yet prepared such a plan. Sure enough, the next Wednesday Trump’s economic team was rolling out a tax plan that echoed the op-ed.
Moore was at the White House that day. “Several of the White House folks came up to us and said, ‘It’s your op-ed that got Trump moving on this,’” Moore said. “I’ve probably written 1,000 op-eds in my life but that might have been the most impactful.”
Well, basing tax policy around quarter-assed nonsense Steve Moore scrawls on the back of a cocktail napkin has been the de facto Republican practice for decades, so might as well make it de jure.