Two Sundays ago (August 16), the New York Times Magazine published a long, brutal article by Robert Draper, called “Unwanted Truths: The Untold Story of President Trump’s Battles With the Country’s Intelligence Services.”
It was a must-read, and I knew it, although I expected to be brutalized and had to brace myself for it. I shrank away from reading it for a few days and then, when I did, I read it a section at a time, over the next week — and only while watching “The Yorkshire Vet” on Acorn TV.
I figured Draper would cover many of the incidents we’ve all been aware of since January 2017.
What I didn’t expect was how penetrating this story is, how incidents I thought I knew about are opened up and reported under the sort of glaring light above our physicians’ examining tables.
Draper had conversations with many of our intelligence officials, some of them named, some anonymous. For the past couple of days, we’ve all become aware of other individuals who have served in the Trump administration, have quit and who are now talking openly about their experiences with Trump. So, as lots of people have predicted, the rotten Trump ship is springing leaks all over the place.
I read the article and can’t shake a few things from it, especially Draper’s fuller picture of Trump in the White House, his behavior, his stunning idiocy. And especially how blatant are Trump’s resentment and even fear of intelligent people (not only intelligence people), people who are smarter than he is. He can’t stand anyone knowing more than he does — and he doesn’t know anything. When you read this article, it hits you in the face that Trump always lived in his very small bubble, always surrounded himself with not very bright people so that he could be the only smart guy in the room.
And now — or, at least, at the beginning of his administration — he isn’t. In fact, he’s the stupidest.
A couple of excerpts:
Trump was accustomed to cutting deals and sharing gossip on his private cellphone, often loudly. He enjoyed being around billionaires, to whom he would “show off about some of the stuff he thought was cool — the capabilities of different weapons systems,” one former senior administration official recalled. “These were superrich guys who wouldn’t give him the time of day before he became president. He’d use that stuff as currency he had that they didn’t, not understanding the implications.”
Trump’s indiscretion wasn’t the only issue. Officials came to realize that his lack of interest and tendency toward distraction posed their own concerns. His briefers, a former senior administration official said, “were stunned and miffed that he had no real interest in the P.D.B. And it wasn’t just the P.D.B.; it was almost anything generated by his N.S.C.” — Trump’s National Security Council. “He kind of likes the military details but just doesn’t read briefing materials. They’d put all this time and effort into these briefing papers, and he’d literally throw it aside.”
…it remained a challenge to engage Trump, a former adviser said: “Anyone who’s ever briefed him wouldn’t get more than three or four minutes into it, and then the president would go off on tangents.” Such tangents, a former intelligence briefer said, would include Trump’s standing in the polls, Hillary Clinton’s email server and the prospect of holding a military parade in the United States.
For one briefing that concerned an adversarial nation’s weapons system, the C.I.A. briefer arrived with a prop: a portable model of the weapon in question. “Trump held it in his hands, and it’s all he paid attention to,” a former senior intelligence official recalled. “The briefer would be talking about range and deployment, and all the president wanted to know was: ‘What’s this made of? What’s this part here?’”
He is a seven year old bad seed without much of an I.Q., and he likes to show off with his toys, especially in front of people who despise him but are calculating how they can use him.