Trump Aides: It Could Be Worse

Axios talked to a bunch of White House staffers about why they continue to work for Donald Trump when they know as well as anyone how utterly unqualified he is for that (or practically any other) job. One answer they got: Because it would be worse if we weren’t here to prevent him from following his worst impulses.

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So why do the others stay? We talked to a half dozen senior administration officials, who range from dismayed but certain to stay, to disgusted and likely soon to leave. They all work closely with Trump and his senior team so, of course, wouldn’t talk on the record. Instead, they agreed to let us distill their thinking/rationale:

“You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill”: The most common response centers on the urgent importance of having smart, sane people around Trump to fight his worst impulses. If they weren’t there, they say, we would have a trade war with China, massive deportations, and a government shutdown to force construction of a Southern wall.

“General Mattis needs us”: Many talk about their reluctance to bolt on their friends and colleagues who are fighting the good fight to force better Trump behavior/decisions. They rightly point out that together, they have learned how to ignore Trump’s rhetoric and, at times, collectively steer him to more conventional policy responses.

So even as bad as his public pronouncements are, Trump has even crazier ideas that don’t see the light of day because his staff helps talk him down off the ledge. That’s kind of terrifying, don’t you think? It’s actually worse than it appears? Because it appears to be really, really bad. This is like someone telling you that as bad as John Wayne Gacy was, he actually did worse things that you don’t even know about. Sleep tight.

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