President Trump got off to a rough start during his first month in office. There were weekends of massive protests. A court shot down his marquee executive order. Trump had to fire his national security adviser. Some of his Cabinet nominees barely got through the Senate, while others dropped out or were moved to the Senate’s back burner.
One of the explanations as to why Trump is making these tactical and political errors? There is no one in his inner circle telling him “no.” Among those pushing this theory is MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, but there are logical reasons to believe this is the case: Trump has instituted a management structure with four top advisers vying for his attention, and there’s little incentive for any of them to bring him bad news — or say anything but “yes” to him.
But here’s the thing: Trump’s outer circle is saying “no” all the time.
His picks for the Cabinet and other key positions have taken pains to show how they disagree with Trump during Senate confirmation procedures. They disagreed with him on his approach to Russia, on waterboarding, on a Muslim immigration ban, and even on Trump’s comment that maybe Japan should obtain nuclear weapons.
This approach was most visible over the weekend, when Vice President Mike Pence told European leaders in Brussels that the administration firmly believes in both NATO and the European Union (despite Trump’s critical comments on both).
Trump’s secretary of defense and Department of Homeland Security backed a robust NATO during a trip to Germany. And speaking of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, no, he doesn’t see the American press as the enemy.
There’s a cost for Trump if too many of his underlings are saying “yes” to him all the time. But there’s also a cost if too many are saying “no” to his policies while they represent his administration around the world.
After all, what is a world leader supposed to listen to: Trump or Trump’s people?
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