Entertaining Read: “How Michael Wolff Got Into the White House for His Tell-All Book”

The Great Transition — much like the Great Hunger or the Great Depression. Jennifer Jacobs, at Bloomberg:

Author Michael Wolff’s pitch to the White House to win cooperation for his book included a working title that signaled a sympathetic view, a counter-narrative to a slew of negative news stories early in Donald Trump’s presidency.

He called it “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration.” And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking.

Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book — including Trump himself — raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history. His previous work included a critical book on Trump confidant Rupert Murdoch, the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. co-chairman…

Wolff’s entree began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president.

Wolff told Trump during the call that he wanted to write a book on the president’s first 100 days in office. Many people want to write books about me, Trump replied — talk to my staff. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks listened to Wolff’s pitch in a West Wing meeting the next day, but were noncommittal.

Several aides said Hicks later informally endorsed talking with Wolff as long as they made “positive” comments for the book, which they said Wolff told them would counter the media’s unfair narrative.

It wasn’t until late August that alarm bells were raised in the White House — when Hicks, Jared Kushner and their allies realized that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them…

Trump allies said they sought Hicks’s guidance on whether to speak with Wolff because they consider her to be the aide most familiar with Trump’s media preferences, having served as the White House director for strategic communications before moving into her current role as communications director. She previously was a top communications staffer for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and before that worked for the Trump Organization.

Hicks advised at least one Trump ally contacted by Wolff to cooperate with the author if he chose — and if he thought he could shape a positive narrative about the president.

In that regard, Hicks’s handling of Wolff’s book didn’t differ much from previous administrations. One official from former President Barack Obama’s White House said that his administration generally believed in engaging with authors, as long as they were serious journalists and not gadflies or partisan writers…

The concensus seems to be that Hicks is now being targeted by Trump defenders, possibly because she’s the only close Trump associate who hasn’t yet been implicated collaborating with Russia. But complaining that a twenty-something former fashion marketing assistant wasn’t up to the job of running media interference for the White House is like complaining about a diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma — political ‘opportunist infections’ like Wolff indicate an administration with a seriously compromised immune system.

Interesting Read (… Between the Lines): ‘John Kelly is the man Fred Trump always wanted Donald Trump to be’

Given this was published in Politico, seems like somebody wants Kelly gone, soonest:

President Donald Trump stirs up so many problems on a daily basis that his chief of staff, John Kelly, has come to define his success in terms of his ability to solve them. “If we end the day in neutral,” Kelly has told close associates on several occasions, “it’s a good day.”…

Thursday seemed to offer a case study of the challenges confronting Kelly — and it illustrates why he has come to adopt a largely defensive approach to his job. The day began with the president tweeting his opposition to the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a measure his own party was trying to push through Congress. It ended with a report that, in a closed-door meeting on immigration, he had demanded to know why the United States was admitting so many immigrants from “shithole countries.”

“In the chief-of-staff job, you juggle the balls that you have to. But normally, you know what those balls are. Now, you have a president who keeps throwing new balls, so [Kelly] is constantly having to rejuggle,” said Leon Panetta, President Bill Clinton’s onetime chief of staff.

The White House disputed the notion that Kelly blamed himself for the president’s remarks, and said that every day the American people go to bed safe is a good day.

But Kelly’s mind-set, reported by POLITICO for the first time, is a testament to how Trump has transformed not only the presidency but the role of presidential chief of staff. Often described as the second most-powerful position in government, the job has previously demanded a deep understanding of politics and policy. Presidential No. 2s have worked to ration their bosses’ time and to help them prioritize in order to push their agendas forward; Kelly more often tries to keep Trump occupied and at arm’s length from the levers of power and the workings of government.

He’s baby-sitting a giant toddler, wadya expect?

His attitude is not entirely unprecedented. Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, Jack Watson, referred to the chief of staff as the “javelin catcher” — though in his analogy, the javelins were heading toward, rather than coming from, the president. At the same time, some are raising concerns that Kelly, whose military background gives him a discrete Washington toolkit, is trying to do too much…

Current and former colleagues say that even as Kelly has taken greater control over legislative affairs — in late December, he announced that the administration’s congressional liaison, Marc Short, would report directly to him — he has a dim view of lawmakers, sometimes referring to them as “a bunch of idiots,” according to two White House aides. He also has expressed frustration with the pace at which legislation moves through Congress.
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Late Night Whiplash Open Thread: Follow the Dirty Sexy Money?

I’m sure at least one person in the Trump camp repeated the old mantra: You don’t pay a [professional] for the sex; you pay her to go away afterwards. But campaign professional Dana Houle raises a question —

Maybe they should’ve remembered another venerable mantra: It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

Open Thread: Remember When the Media Villagers Were Embarrassed That Ken Starr Forced Them to Say “Blowjob” On-Air?


Bad enough having to spell out sh*thole for their viewers… but if they should actually be required to say the R-word out loud, and in reference to such a very fine person as their President*!…

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: ‘Executive Time’


Like those ‘executive toys’ — Trump’s a human fidget spinner. In the Washington Post, “Why ‘executive time’ is a particularly bleak scoop about President Trump”:

It’s 100 percent true that the Trump presidency can be exhausting, but it’s mostly because of Trump’s penchant for controversy, which he often stokes through his Twitter feed during off-hours. And Trump’s Twitter habit only seems to have increased as a portion of his day in recent weeks.

And the reason Swan’s scoop paints such a bleak picture of Trump is because it suggests he’s not particularly interested in the official duties of being president. Whatever you think about Trump’s policies or his fitness for the job, the job requires one to be fully engaged, to be processing information (preferably from sources other than cable news), and to always be, for lack of a better word, on. The idea that Trump doesn’t take his daily intelligence briefing until 11 a.m. is shocking just by itself. And whoever leaked his official schedules to Swan seems to be concerned that Trump just isn’t up to the job right now…

Unfortunately, the Congressional Republicans protecting Trump, and their donors, feel much the same way — as long as he stages signing ceremonies on demand, the less Donny Dollhands interferes with their plans to loot the Treasury and gut our commonwealth, the better they like it.

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Alas, Babble-On!


WARNING: Sensitive individuals should not read below the fold, where Stephen Miller is discussed…
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Hapless Repubs Open Thread: Anybody Know Morse Code?

… because I think Lindsey Graham might be blinking out HELP ME…

Of course some people say that Lindsey is just eager to be named Secretary of State once Rex Tillerson beats the clawback clause in his Exxon severance contract
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