Reince Priebus is getting his comeuppance. According to Politico, the White House chief of staff is having to micromanage what news reports our capricious president sees. Not just because the president has a tendency to run to Twitter whenever he something he likes or doesn’t — which is a problem in itself — but because the people around him are passing along hoaxes and what Trump would call “fake news.”
Reince has given a warning to senior staff about handing things to Trump secretly: Don’t do it.
Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.
Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.
McFarland is on her way out the door to an ambassadorship in Singapore, but there are plenty just like her still occupying seats close to the president.
Another instance happened in late February when someone slipped Trump a story from the ignominious GotNews.com website, in which the author claimed that one of Priebus’s closest allies in the administration, Katie Walsh, had been the source behind several leaks from the White House.
Paying no attention to the source or its credibility, Trump reading the article was enough to make him start asking questions about Walsh, who has since left the White House for work elsewhere.
All of this has had Priebus desperate to find a way to minimize and filter what the president sees.
Priebus and White House staff secretary Rob Porter have tried to implement a system to manage and document the paperwork Trump receives. While some see the new structure as a power play by a weakened chief of staff — “He’d like to get a phone log too,” cracked one senior White House adviser — others are more concerned about the unfettered ability of Trump’s family-member advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, to ply the president with whatever paperwork they want in the residence sight unseen.
“They have this system in place to get things on his desk now,” the same White House official said. “I’m not sure anyone follows it.”
Unsurprising. If nothing else, Reince Priebus gives off nothing but an air of withering competence.
Since forcing the Republican nominees to sign a pledge to vote for the party nominee in 2015 and essentially tying the hands of the candidates rather than cutting Trump loose, Priebus has deserved every headache of having to deal with the man he allowed to run roughshod over a field of highly capable and talented presidential candidates.