The revolving door at the Trump administration has barely stopped spinning since the President took office two years ago as staff turnover in the White House remains at the highest level in decades.
For many officials, their final hours in the Trump administration were marred by public humiliation, with the decorum and dignity of previous administration’s firings giving way to a flurry of fiery Tweets designed to discredit and smear officials on their way out the door. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that many former advisers had few compliments for their old boss and instead established themselves as forceful Trump critics upon leaving office.
But now, according to the Daily Beast, Trump is concerned that these scorned former employees could try to seek “revenge” in the form of tell-all books ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The first due for public release is Cliff Sims’ tell-all chronicle about life in Trump’s West Wing. The former White House official’s book, based on notes recorded during his time in office, is due for release in January and is reportedly set to ruffle some feathers in the White House.
A source close to Trump told the Daily Beast that the president becomes visibly “terrified” whenever he hears of the imminent release of a book from a former associate. The source described how Trump would direct his allies to wage war on the writers and attack the credibility of their work.
Journalists and authors will not have to search far for an extensive list of disgruntled former employees. James Comey, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, David Shulkin, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Rex Tillerson have all either written books or shared unflattering information with authors and journalists on their former boss.
Trump is right to fear these jilted former associates. The political impact of a former Trump insider reinforcing public fears about the worst aspects of Trump’s character and capacity to serve in the Oval Office could be significant.
The President is already taking measures to prevent former officials from joining the ranks of his critics by offering them well-paid and easy jobs in super PACs and Trump-allied organization.
Sean Spicer, for example, took a job in the super PAC America First Action after his departure from the White House. Manigault Newman also recorded Lara Trump offering her a $15,000 a month position in Trump’s re-election campaign, a move she interpreted as an attempt to buy her silence.
This could be too little too late for Trump. As the list of ousted officials grows by the month, Trump’s 2020 campaign could end up as a Trump Christmas Carol where ghosts of Trump’s political past line up to share their dirt on the president.
Whether this would be enough to turn Republican primary voters away from the real-estate mogul remains to be seen, but it will no doubt offer more insight into the chaos of the Trump White House and cast further doubt on his ability to govern.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.