White House Memo: To Defend Against a Mercurial Boss, Trump Aides Wield the Pen as Shield
Added 04-22-19 02:40:02am EST - “Note-taking in the White House, a practice previous administrations shied away from to protect the president, has become a way for Trump aides to protect themselves from the president.” - Nytimes.com
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WASHINGTON — President Trump glanced around the room and noticed Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, then his national security adviser, with his head bent over a notebook, scribbling something down.
General McMaster was a prolific note-taker, recording details for later reference, a practice that hardly seemed unusual to someone in charge of a sprawling national security apparatus. But it enraged Mr. Trump, who one day, according to people in the room, finally snapped at his adviser.
General McMaster mumbled an answer that no one could recall later, but suffice to say it did not satisfy the president. As the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, made clear last week, Mr. Trump has an allergy to written records of meetings and conversations, some of which have now come back to haunt him.
Time and again, Mr. Trump’s advisers took notes of their interactions with the president or drafted memos immediately afterward to maintain real-time records, in some cases simply to have an accurate understanding to do their jobs better, but in other cases for self-preservation. While aides in past administrations recognized that notes could become public and shied away from recording sensitive information in writing to protect the president, many of Mr. Trump’s aides took pen to paper to protect themselves from the president.
Cliff Sims, a former communications aide to Mr. Trump who wrote the book “Team of Vipers” about his time in the White House, said he and others took notes during meetings with the president to “ensure everyone was echoing his messaging” when they went out to speak for him in public.
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