That Donald Trump is a baby is no secret. Like other babies, he needs to be watched by responsible adults and even their presence do not prevent the many gaffes in the wee twitter hours, or shoving a fellow head of state aside in order to get in position for a photograph. Trump is at best a school boy, as evidenced by the nomenclature he uses to describe top aides and cabinet secretaries. Politico has more:
Trump often refers to certain Cabinet secretaries as his “killers” — the highest form of praise from the commander in chief, according to aides.
“I’ve only got killers, only killers,” Trump often says when introducing his Cabinet secretaries, taking pride in the team of high-net-worth individuals who have excelled in the military or the private sector.
One of his favorite “killers” and foremost among his babysitters is CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who spends so much time at the White House that he’s been given his own desk there.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo carves out three hours almost every weekday to drive from Langley, Virginia, to the White House with his team to give President Donald Trump his national security briefing in person. The CIA director’s treks to the West Wing reflect Trump’s insistence on frequent meetings with favored members of his team. Every president has regular contact with key Cabinet members, but Trump, who remains deeply mistrustful of career agency officials, has turned the White House into a hangout for his chosen department heads.
Senior aides say Trump demands face time with his appointees in part because he doesn’t trust bureaucrats who do the day-to-day work of the federal government. The president shuns them as tools of what he often refers to as the “deep state,” and blames them for frequent, unflattering news stories coming from his White House, according to two White House aides.
But the constant visits to the White House are beginning to worry some inside and outside the administration. Pompeo spends so much of his day with Trump that the White House set up a temporary workspace for him in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the fourth floor next door to the office of the director of national intelligence. Although sources familiar with the issue said Pompeo has griped privately about the inconvenience of his trips to the White House, a CIA spokesperson referred to his public comments that their daily meetings are “important” and that he often “needs a great deal more of the president’s time.”
Unquestionably, Pompeo is telling the truth that he needs a lot of Trump’s time — not because he, Pompeo, needs it but because Trump does. In all events, Pompeo is not saying that, he’s spinning it the way you would expect. He assured MSNBC with a perfectly straight face recently in response to a statement that Trump has no interest in complex intelligence briefings, “I cannot imagine a statement that is any more false than one that would attribute President Trump of not being interested in the intelligence community.” Bear in mind that Trump made a ridiculous display at the CIA the first time he went there and stood in front of the wall emblazoned with the names of fallen heroes and he also referred that same month to the intelligence community as “a bunch of Nazis.”
As they huddle around the desk, Trump likes to pore over visuals — maps, charts, pictures and videos, as well as “killer graphics,” as CIA Director Mike Pompeo phrased it.
“I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their May 10 meeting in the Oval Office, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the exchange.
He recently — despite all evidence to the contrary — said that perhaps China, not Russia, had tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. And during a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, the president seemed to effectively confirm that the private information he divulged to the Russian diplomats came from Israel.
“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” Trump told reporters, responding to a question no one had asked. “Never mentioned it during that conversation.”
Intelligence officials were prepared to deliver daily briefings to Trump throughout the transition period, but the president-elect often turned them away, usually agreeing to sit for briefings only once or twice per week.
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump told Fox News last December.
President Barack Obama offered a retort when he later appeared on “The Daily Show.”
“It doesn’t matter how smart you are,” Obama said. “. . . If you’re not getting their perspective, their detailed perspective, then you are flying blind.”
Flying blind is not an issue to the Trump administration, most of whom don’t even know that they’ve boarded an airplane, metaphorically speaking, let alone that the plane is in flight with no pilot, and cut off from any air traffic controllers who might be trying to scream emergency instructions. To them the Trump White House is more like a frat house cum pool hall and the boys are just hangin’ out.
One senior administration official said White House staff members understand the president’s desire to rely on agency heads to learn about complex issues, but they wish that the meetings would be coordinated in advance. Instead, Cabinet secretaries like Mnuchin and Ross just stroll in with little notice.
Others in the administration remain concerned that Cabinet officials are spending too much time schmoozing with the president and attending events, and not enough at their agencies.
“Everyone is in events all day long,” said one senior agency official. “Everything about this White House. It’s a dog-and-pony show.”
So we’ve got “killer” cronies with “high net worth” and perhaps some credibility in what might be considered the real world or at least an adjacent reality, the world of trust fund babies to the manor born. And of course along with the cronies there are the relatives, notably Ivanka and husband Jared, dubbed by the press as “Secretary of Everything,” and “Ralph Lauren of Arabia,” (after his trip to Iraq); and then there are a very few select career professionals, such as Reince Priebus, representing the GOP establishment — that is when he isn’t burbling his undying sycophancy to Donald Trump in a cabinet meeting, declaring what a “blessing” it is to work for the man.
Then finally there’s the one man who cannot be fired in the administration, the vice president, whom an aide described to Politico as, “the quiet killer of the White House,” Mike Pence. Trump has apparently never heard of the legend of the scorpion and the frog if Trump thinks that Mike Pence is just going to go along for the ride and not become lethal at some point. Trump really should re-assess who and what Mike Pence is before the Koch brothers, whom Pence met with in Aspen just today, decide what they’re going to do with the GOP with or without Trump. Pence is playing the role of the diplomat and being low key, but Pence will go Shakespearean on Trump at some point in the foreseeable future and whether he plays Iago or goes all the way to Brutus is anybody’s guess.