Politics

Report: White House Aides Give Trump Fake News

| by Michael Allen

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has reportedly warned the staff to stop secretly giving news, some of it fake, to President Donald Trump.

Four White House officials told Politico that K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, recently gave the president a photograph of a meme that compared a Time magazine cover from the 1970s about an upcoming ice age and a cover from 2008 about the dangers of global warming.

However, the comparison was actually an old internet hoax that’s circulated for years; the 1970s Time cover was not real. The White House staff was able to intervene before Trump talked or tweeted about the ruse.

McFarland did not respond to questions from the news site, but an unidentified White House official said: "While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the 70s when people were predicting an ice age. The broader point I think was accurate."

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Trump reportedly likes getting input from official and unofficial sources. According to the news site, some White House aides slip him stories to promote their policy agendas or gain influence in the White House.

Six White House officials said that getting Trump the right news story at the right time can literally change his agenda. According to current and former Trump officials, the president can blow up over negative press reports, particularly if they include damaging leaks.

Politico notes that Priebus and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter are trying to enforce a new system to manage and track paperwork that goes to the president.

But even with the new system in place, some are reportedly worried that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka will still be allowed to give the president anything they want.

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"They have this system in place to get things on his desk now," a White House official told Politico. "I’m not sure anyone follows it."

Nevertheless, Priebus has told the staff to follow presidential record-keeping laws, which include cataloguing content that the president sees.

Lisa Brown, an ex-White House staff secretary for President Barack Obama, warned that it is "dangerous" for people to get around paperwork procedures:

It’s even more important with someone like [Trump]. [B]ut the challenge is he has to buy into it. You know that people are going to go around the system. But then it’s up to the principal to decide how to handle it. You need the president to say "thanks, I appreciate it" [when he receives stories] and to hand it off to get it into a process.

Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was working at lobbying firm Avenue Strategies until resigning on May 4, reportedly told a then-client, Flow Health, that he could get Veterans Administration Secretary David Shulkin fired by bad-mouthing him on Fox News, which Trump often watches.

GQ reports that Lewandowski came up with the notion of calling Shulkin a "bad hombre" who should be fired on Sean Hannity's show.

Lewandowski reportedly said that Trump would call him [Lewandowski] to see what was wrong with Shulkin, which would put the termination wheels in motion.

Flow Health allegedly wanted Shulkin axed after the VA canceled a contract with Flow Health because of worries about protecting veterans' data.

Shulkin told Venture Beat in January: "We took this action after it was determined that the agreement, which involves genomic data from the Million Veteran Program ... may violate regulations, VA policy, and VA’s longstanding commitment to our Veterans to protect their data."

Despite the GQ report, Lewandowski did not say anything bad about Shulkin during his appearances.

Sources: Politico, GQ, Venture Beat / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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