News & Politics

Trump's 'Briefing' Book Is Filled with 'Slogans' Fit for a Child

The document appears to be the intellectual love child of a marketing pitch and a children’s storybook.

Photo Credit: MSNBC

From Day One, one the greatest conundrums for denizens of Donald Trump’s West Wing has been how to brief a pr*sident who doesn't read and won't listen to any of his aides. Just imagine being a high-level advisor like former national security chief H.R. McMaster—who actually had real expertise in an area—and not being able to convey any of it because your commander in chief has the attention span of a gnat.

Initially, White House aides came up with two workarounds, according to Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: leaking things to the press, where Trump might actually find it interesting; and coaxing one of his billionaire buddies to mention it to him. 

And slowly but surely, they've improvised in order find one more potential way to reach Trump's impenetrable mind: "The Book." Axios has a write up on this "briefing" book, which appears to be the intellectual love child of a marketing pitch and a children’s storybook. Here's just a few of the revelations:

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  • Separately, the press and communications staffs assemble clippings — often positive, to contrast the bad news he may be seeing on cable news.
  • '“If he reads something in the press, like if he sees it on TV, that grabs his attention,” said a source close to the president.
  • The packet can even include screen grabs of cable news chyrons.

The president demands brevity, refusing to engage with briefers like his former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who’d come in with a PowerPoint deck dozens of pages long, filled with text.

  • “He used complete sentences!” said one person who saw the briefings, and knows better about how Trump likes his information.
  • Trump got so exasperated with McMaster that he’d look at other papers on his desk while the national security adviser was talking — his view of an alpha male move to show that the general was failing to interest him.
  • The more effective approach with Trump is to use simple, short bullets, or a graphic or timeline — anything demonstrative.
  • The bullets are so pithy that one source said they're "basically slogans."

McMaster, come back when you have colored buttons for me to press!

Sometimes Trump reportedly flips through "The Book" during his "executive time," the morning hours in which Trump hangs out in his jam jams and slurps down diet coke while soaking in all that Fox News goodness like a sponge. Apparently, chief of staff John Kelly made the genius move to block out that time for Trump after he complained about his overly demanding schedule. 

Some aides would like to minimize Trump's executive time, but just like with a petulant child, once the expectation is set, "there's no going back," according to an unnamed source. 

Fingers crossed that some crackerjack aide manages to come up with a slick “nuclear North Korea” slogan because, outside of that, Trump doesn't have time to prep for those talks.