To hell with it: Trump increasingly weary of staff advice

To hell with it: Trump increasingly weary of staff advice, by Zeke  Miller.

The speech was written. A cast of relatable Americans with emotional stories was standing by to reinforce the message. But President Donald Trump was in no mood to play along.

“The hell with it,” Trump said, recounting the scene with his aides to a West Virginia crowd last week. Trump tossed the staff-prepared remarks on tax cuts in the air and ducked as the paper fluttered to the floor. “I said, ‘This is boring, come on.’ Tell it like it is.”

This president has never been one to stick to a script, but that abandoned speech illustrates a new phase in Trump’s presidency. He is increasingly at odds with his staff — and growing wise to their tactics.

One favored staff strategy: Guide the president to the right decision by making the conventional choice seem like the only realistic option. Except now, 14 months into his administration, Trump is on to them, and he’s making clear he won’t be boxed in. …

Some aides, convinced that Trump puts more stock in what he sees on TV than in his own aides’ advice, regularly phone prominent commentators and news hosts to provide talking points on everything from tax policy to Syria in hopes of influencing Trump. Similar strategies have also been embraced by foreign governments and outside groups trying to sway the president’s thinking. …

The recent changes in how Trump interacts with his staff have also been driven by a shake-up in White House personnel that includes the weakening of the chief of staff, John Kelly. Over the last six weeks, the decision-making process overseen by Porter has largely broken down, giving Trump’s outside confidants a new opening. Some of those outsiders were once insiders. Now gone, they’ve seized the opportunity to influence Trump once again.