Thursday, May 11, 2017


The Washington Post has reported that President Trump was furious at the lack of backup he got from his communications staff after he fired James Comey -- never mind the fact that he gave those staffers no chance to prepare:
Trump’s team did not have a full-fledged communications strategy for how to announce and then explain the decision. As Trump, who had retired to the residence to eat dinner, sat in front of a television watching cable news coverage of Comey’s firing, he noticed another flaw: Nobody was defending him.

The president was irate, according to White House officials. Trump pinned much of the blame on [press secretary Sean] Spicer and [communications director Michael] Dubke’s communications operation, wondering how there could be so many press staffers yet such negative coverage on cable news — although he, [chief of staff Reince] Priebus and others had afforded them almost no time to prepare.

“This is probably the most egregious example of press and communications incompetence since we’ve been here,” one West Wing official said. “It was an absolute disaster. And the president watched it unfold firsthand. He could see it.”
So, um, what was Trump doing in the run-up to Comey's dismissal, when he could have been communicating his plans regarding Comey to these key aides so they could work up a response? Thanks to Time magazine, we now know:
Tonight, at dusk on May 8, he invites three TIME correspondents for a tour of his home and office, followed by a four-course dinner in the Blue Room, the oval-shaped parlor on the first floor of the executive mansion.... In less than 24 hours, Trump will roil the nation again by announcing the firing of his FBI Director, James Comey, who is leading an investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia. It will set off yet another firestorm. But for now, it’s showtime once again.

“You’ll see something that is amazing. It just happened,” he says as he stands up from the desk. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
Trump leads the Time correspondents into his dining room. He describes some of the remodeling he's had done:
“We found gold behind the walls, which I always knew. Renovations are grand,” he says, boasting that contractors from the General Services Administration resurfaced the walls and redid the moldings in two days. “Remember how hard they worked? They wanted to make me happy.”
Trump says he used his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling. “I made a contribution to the White House,” he jokes.
And then the pièce de résistance:
But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.

A clutch of aides follow him, including McMaster, Pence and press secretary Sean Spicer. The President raises a remote and flicks on the screen, sorting through old recordings of cable news shows, until he comes to what he is after: a clip from the Senate hearing earlier in the day, as broadcast on Fox News.
The president is about to set off a constitutional crisis -- and what he's doing is having a TV-watching session with three guys from Time magazine, plus three of his most important advisers, including the press secretary he could be briefing on the upcoming constitutional crisis.

They watch cherry-picked clips from the hearings -- clips Trump thinks vindicate his views on Russiagate. Later, the Time correspondents go to dinner with Trump and learn how he eats (he's automatically given a Diet Coke, and he gets two scoops of ice cream on his chocolate cream pie while everyone else gets one).

The Time story makes clear that this was, in effect, a working dinner for Trump:
Trump sees the dinner with TIME as a pitch meeting as much as anything else, with an audience that he does not entirely trust. He wants to go through his many accomplishments, regularly deflecting questions to keep on task.
But do you know what else he could ben doing that night if he wanted to work through dinner? He could have been briefing his staff on the Comey decision.

Nahhh. Much more important to tell some guys from Time that he's the greatest and anyone who writes a negative story about him is an idiot.

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