Trump is making his staff miserable by demanding they find evidence to support his insane tweets
The latest Glenn Thrush/Maggie Haberman joint at The New York Times confirmed what we pretty much already knew about President Trump’s Twitter habits — mainly that he likes to tweet first and then send his staff and other government agencies scrambling to find the evidence to back them up. In the case of Trump’s tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, no one in Trump’s cabinet or in the intelligence community is happy about being sent on a wild goose chase to substantiate claims based on accusations a 70-year-old Fox News addict picked up from a Breitbart post aggregating a right-wing radio rant. This tweet first then ask questions later policy is easing Trump’s damaged ego while making everyone who works for him feel like dogs chasing their own tails.
That led to a succession of frantic staff conference calls, including one consultation with the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, as staff members grasped the reality that the president had opened an attack on his predecessor.
Mr. Trump, advisers said, was in high spirits after he fired off the posts. But by midafternoon, after returning from golf, he appeared to realize he had gone too far, although he still believed Mr. Obama had wiretapped him, according to two people in Mr. Trump’s orbit.
Just because Trump had some post-Twitter remorse doesn’t mean that he’s backing down on his baseless and batshit claim, nor will it stop him from wasting the time and energy of staffers and Congress scavenging for scraps of evidence to back up his glorified fever dream. That being said, we really enjoy the image of him lumbering off to the golf course while his aides scramble to put out fires.
So for Mr. Trump’s allies inside the West Wing and beyond, the tweetstorm spawned the mother of all messaging migraines. Over the past few days, they have executed what amounts to a strategic political retreat — trying to publicly validate Mr. Trump’s suspicions without overtly endorsing a claim some of them believe might have been generated by Breitbart News and other far-right outlets.
“No, that’s above my pay grade,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary and a feisty Trump loyalist, when asked on Tuesday at an on-camera briefing if he had seen any evidence to back up Mr. Trump’s accusation. The reporters kept at him, but Mr. Spicer pointedly and repeatedly refused to offer personal assurances that the president’s statements were true.
During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, the first one on camera in over a week, Sean Spicer became visibly testy when ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl attempted to break the fourth wall and the press secretary if he actually believed his boss’s claims.
“I get that that’s a cute question to ask,” Spicer retorted. “I think we’ve tried to play this game before. I’m not here to speak for myself. I’m here to speak for the president of the United States and our government.”
The unspoken sentiment is that he’s here to speak for a president that is essentially a sentient email forward from a Libertarian uncle. We’d feel sorry for him, except no one put a gun to his head to agree to be the spokesman for that tangerine devil.
In addition to making his staffers feel like they’re living in a “Saw” movie, Trump managed to piss off the intelligence community in the process, particularly FBI director James Comey who pressed the DOJ to deny Trump’s claim. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just issued a weak “no comment” to the press.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly also issued a noncommittal comment on Trump’s wiretapping flights of fancy. “I don’t know anything about it,” Kelly said on CNN Monday, adding “if the president of the United States said that, he’s got his reasons to say it.”
Yeah, the reason is that he believes any half-baked conspiracy theory from right-wing websites.