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Ignore Trump tell-all accounts at your own peril

APTOPIX Trump

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

President Donald Trump likes to say that he hires only the best people and that his White House operates like a well-oiled machine.

But a steady stream of insider accounts flowing out of the West Wing suggests there’s more madness than method to the president and his administration.

The most recent entries are two books that just hit best-seller lists, one by former White House aide Cliff Sims, the other by ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a onetime Trump adviser.

Sims dishes about Oval Office back-stabbing in his explicitly titled “Team of Vipers.” Christie’s “Let Me Finish” laments Trump’s choice of “amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons ... hustled into jobs they were never suited for.”

The authors join a pantheon of disgruntled leakers or tattling ex-staffers telling tales of incompetence at the highest executive levels. Last week, someone handed Axios three months of Trump’s daily schedule, revealing in mortifying detail how the president spends more than half of his workday in “executive time” activities such as watching TV, tweeting and making calls.

The consistent and growing evidence of internal dysfunction is growing increasingly difficult to ignore or explain away. Remember, these accounts aren’t coming from Democrats or anti-Trump pundits. They’re from people who have worked inside the administration and seen White House operations up close and personal:

■ A senior Trump administration official, writing an anonymous column in The New York Times, characterized the president as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” with decisions that are “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless.”

■ Journalist Bob Woodward, in his best-selling book “Fear,” diagnosed a White House suffering a “nervous breakdown,” with aides stealing papers off Trump’s desk to deter bad policy. Former Chief of Staff John Kelly was quoted as saying: “We’re in Crazytown.”

■ “Fire and Fury” by writer Michael Wolff and “Unhinged” by Omarosa Manigault Newman, the ex-White House aide and former television reality star, questioned the president’s mental well-being.

Sprinkled throughout these tell-all tomes are unflattering assessments of the president by some of his top-drawer executives. Ex-Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to Woodward, said Trump comprehends like a “fifth- or sixth-grader.” And former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has never denied multiple reports that he labeled Trump a “moron.”

Trump and his supporters have questioned the credibility of some writers, or dismissed their accounts as sour grapes. But you have to wonder how so many aides who were hailed as brilliant choices on their way into the administration suddenly became incompetent hacks on their way out.

With more books in the pipeline, the Trump campaign is eager to try to enforce nondisclosure agreements signed by ex-staffers. What doesn’t the White House want the public to know?

People who’ve served inside the Trump administration keep trying to warn the world that something is terribly awry. Americans ignore them at their peril.

USA Today

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Humans of Greenville

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Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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