- A new book written by an anonymous White House official says President Donald Trump’s briefings must be reduced to just a single point, otherwise he grows frustrated and enraged at the complexity.
- The author said officials slowly began to realise at the onset of the Trump administration that lengthy briefings and documents didn’t work – Trump would lose focus and preferred pictures and graphics.
- Officials began using PowerPoints, then shifted to distilling their briefings into three key points, the author said.
- But that was still too much, anonymous writes, and officials were told to just repeat one point “over and over again … until he gets it.”
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Aides and officials tasked with briefing President Donald Trump on complex policy issues or national-security matters were told to reduce their presentations to a single point – or risk enraging him, according to a new book written by an anonymous senior White House official in the Trump administration.
The book, titled “The Warning,” was written by the same person who authored an anonymous New York Times op-ed in 2018. It’s unclear if the official is still a member of the administration.
The author wrote that when Trump first took office, briefers were told not to send lengthy documents or summaries to the Oval Office.
But the demands only escalated from there, the author wrote. Officials were then told to just bring documents in PowerPoint format because Trump “is a visual learner.” Then, they were told to slim down the PowerPoint decks because “the president couldn’t digest too many slides,” anonymous said in the book.
At one point, officials were told to cut their briefings down to just three points – only to be told later to cut it down to one key point.
“They were told to cut back the overall message (on complicated issues such as military readiness or the federal budget) to just three main points. Eh, that was still too much,” the author wrote. “Soon, West Wing aides were exchanging ‘best practices’ for success in the Oval Office. The most salient advice? Forget the three points.”
The author continued: “Come in with one main point and repeat it – over and over again, even if the president inevitably goes off on tangents – until he gets it. Just keep steering the subject back to it. ONE point. Just that one point. Because you cannot focus the commander in chief’s attention on more than one goddamned thing over the course of a meeting, ok?”
Those who ignored the warnings ‘paid the price’ when they approached Trump
The author went on to explain that some officials reacted to the advice with disbelief, suggesting it was not possible to “dumb down their work to this level.”
Yet those who dismissed the aides’ advice “invariably paid the price” when they approached Trump expecting an in-depth policy debate.
“‘What the fuck is this?’ the president would shout, looking at a document one of them handed him. ‘These are just words. A bunch of words. It doesn’t mean anything,'” the author wrote.
The author’s description largely matches reports from news outlets on Trump’s peculiar briefing style.
In May 2017, The Washington Post reported that Trump often demanded brevity in briefings and often interrupted his briefers to discuss unrelated matters.
The story quoted then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo saying that Trump enjoyed “killer graphics” in his presentations.
Reuters also reported that national-security officials have adopted strategies like including Trump’s name in as many paragraphs as possible, “because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned.”
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