Trump demands in-person cabinet meetings because he doesn’t trust the ‘deep state’
In a time of increased terror vigilance, CIA director Mike Pompeo probably has nothing better to do with his time than sit in a car for three hours every day like a common commuter. That’s why Donald Trump sees no problem with making him travel the 1.5-hour trip each way from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to the White House to give him security briefings in person every day.
This is par for the course for the Trump White House, according to Politico: The president insists on face-to-face meetings with his appointees because he simply doesn’t trust the rest of the government. Trump, who to date still has apparently not read a book on how the presidency or the federal government actually works, demands face time because he is distrustful of “the deep state,” which is the cool new buzzword Trumpies use to describe “dedicated non-partisan federal employees.” To be fair, it’s also probably because he’s bad at technology.
“The president shuns them as tools of what he often refers to as the ‘deep state,’ and blames them for the frequent, unflattering news stories coming from his White House, according to two White House aides,” Politico wrote on Monday.
This has also led to 34 in-person meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, discussions over meals at the White House “several times a week” with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and frequent visits from Treasury Secretary/”Wonder Woman” producer Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“Wilbur practically lives here,” one White House aide told Politico.
It’s unusual because the job of briefing the president is typically left to deputy secretaries or other lower staff at the agencies; roles the Trump administration still hasn’t filled in many cases. Politico reports that staffers are worried these in-person meetings divert from the day-to-day operations of the agencies, you know, that kind of “deep state” stuff that keeps the government running. During Obama’s term, for instance, lower-level staffers would often brief the president.
“We were very prudent about using their time,” Broderick Johnson, who served as Obama’s Cabinet secretary in the last years of his second term, told Politico.“President Obama’s view was certainly that time they spent away from the agencies or with the president would be time that could conceivably distract from what they were trying to get accomplished.”
The other rub is that a lot of the appointees are Trump’s friends, so he asks them for advice even for things that are outside the purview of their agencies.
“Everyone is in events all day long,” one senior agency official told Politico. “Everything about this White House. It’s a dog and pony show.”