Monday, April 22, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said, and may actually believe, that his staff is not disobeying his orders.

One of the things in the Mueller report that Trump is known to be most upset by are the many examples of his hand-picked staff refusing to carry out his orders. Asked about this by reporters today, Trump snapped, “Nobody disobeys my orders.”

In reality, not only do Trump's appointees routinely refuse to obey his orders, it may be what has saved him from indictment or impeachment—so far. On at least eleven occasions cited in the Mueller report alone, senior Trump administration staff refused to help him obstruct the Mueller investigation into Russia's attempts to sabotage the 2016 election. At other times, cabinet secretaries from the Defense Department to the State Department to the Department of Homeland Security refused to obey illegal orders issued by Trump, losing their jobs in the process. 

But even before the publication of the Mueller report, Trump's inability to manage his own administration has been openly acknowledged. Last September, the New York Times published an anonymous editorial written by a serving senior Trump official detailing the group effort "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

Of course, while it's clear Trump has never really figured out the extent to which he is manipulated by his own staff—in part because they hide unflattering coverage from him—he does seem to have figured out that he is not his own man in the Oval Office. He frequently lashes out in public at his own appointees, calling them (for example) "traitors and cowards."

So what?

  • It's bad if a president's staff can overrule him.
  • It's very bad if a president's staff feels the need to overrule him.
  • It's extremely bad if a president's staff must overrule him for his own good.