News & Politics

5 Hilarious and Terrifying New Revelations About the Inner Workings of the Trump White House

Staff fumble in the dark for light switches while the president wanders around in a bathrobe.

Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

Donald Trump doesn't like to read the neo-Nazi-inspired Executive Orders of his chief strategist, but he always has time for window treatments. According to an explosive Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush New York Times profile of life in the Trump White House, the leader of the free world has not fully reviewed the Muslim ban, but he gleefully studied a 17-page catalog of window dressings. That the White House staff can't locate the light switches in the cabinet room is almost too easy a metaphor for the way the Trump administration is struggling to fit the sweeping nationalistic rhetoric of the campaign into the unsexy world of governance. It would be hilarious, if not for the prospect of power clashes leading to World War III. Read on for five of the most shocking details. 

1. Visitors are literally in the dark.

If you have a meeting at the White House, you better hope it ends before dark. No, that's not when Bannon's brownshirts come out, but there's a horror of a different order awaiting those innocently looking for an exit sign. As Haberman and Thrush explain, “Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit. In a darkened, mostly empty West Wing, Mr. Trump’s provocative chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, finishes another 16-hour day planning new lines of attack.” Perhaps they should bring flashlights. 

2. In the evenings, the president flees to his residence, his bathrobe and his private security.

While ambassadors, senators and anyone unlucky enough to be playing the presidential version of "Escape the Room" are fleeing to safety, Trump reportedly retreats to the residence at about 6:30pm. With Melania and Barron back in New York, he changes into his bathrobe for a relaxing night of shouting at CNN, tweeting and wandering around his new surroundings in his bathrobe. Instead of actually engaging with the outside world, the Times reports, he retreats to the bosom of cable news. "For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day—too much in the eyes of some aides—often offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon."

The SNL sketches write themselves, but take on a more sinister air when the article mentions that in the absence of his wife, Trump is accompanied by his terrifying aide and former (or maybe current, who knows) chief of security, Keith Schiller. Like all the best dictators, our president keeps a private security force. 

3. Chris Christie wrote the playbook for a successful transition. A Trump aide threw it in the garbage. 

Chris Christie just can't catch a break. Prior to his ouster as transition chief, he was the Trump adviser with the most government experience, which he used to write a staffing and implementation plan. Of course, as the Times reports, "It was discarded—a senior Trump aide made a show of tossing it into a garbage can—for a strategy that prioritized the daily release of dramatic executive orders to put opponents on the defensive." Christie had relevant advice, based on previous Republican administrations, that might have actually been helpful, but Trumpworld loves its whipping boys, and Christie continues to play the part. 

4. Trump is obsessed with Oval Office decor.

Unsurprisingly, the president chose gold drapes. He likes to tell people the drapes were FDR's, but they were in fact patterned from Bill Clinton's. There are also portraits of new favorite Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, and he's apparently so proud of his decor as "a totem of a victory that validates him as a serious person and an image-burnishing backdrop,” he tells his aides to schedule as many televised events as possible in it. Trump's notoriously short attention span may fail him when he tries to read about policy but allowed him to stay focused enough to pore through an entire catalog of window treatments.

5. Trump didn't read the Executive Order that gave Bannon a seat on the NSC.

Trump reportedly was angry he wasn't fully briefed on the Muslim ban executive order. Still, and troublingly, "Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser." It's hard to say what's worse, that Trump didn't even read the order, that he was angrier about being kept out of the loop than about the content of the order, or that despite all that anger, Bannon still has immense power. 

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

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