Politico takes us inside White House prep for the 100-day mark, aided by White House staffers airing their grievances.
As the White House looks to the 100-day mark at the end of the month, Politico has a new story this morning with extraordinary details about the meetings underway to prepare for the April 29th milestone.
In an amazing behind-the-scenes report, Politico takes us inside a communications meeting as White House aides snipe at each other and take their complaints to the media. Check it out below:
More than 30 Trump staffers piled into a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjoining the White House, according to a half-dozen attendees who described the Tuesday meeting.
Mike Dubke, Trump’s communications director, and his deputy, Jessica Ditto, kicked off the discussion of how to package Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days by pitching the need for a “rebranding” to get Trump back on track.
“I think the president’s head would explode if he heard that,” one of the White House officials present said.
Staffers, including counselor Kellyanne Conway, were broken into three groups, complete with whiteboards, markers and giant butcher-block-type paper to brainstorm lists of early successes. One group worked in the hallway.
“It made me feel like I was back in 5th grade,” complained another White House aide who was there. “That’s the best way I could describe it.”
Dubke, who did not work on the campaign, told the assembled aides that international affairs would present a messaging challenge because the president lacks a coherent foreign policy. Three days later, Trump would order missile strikes in Syria in a reversal of years of previous opposition to such intervention.
“There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared.
Some in the room were stunned by the remark.
“It rubbed people the wrong way because on the campaign we were pretty clear about what he wanted to do,” said a third White House official in the room, “He was elected on a vision of America First. America First is the Trump doctrine.”
One of the administration officials lamented, “We’ve got a comms team supposedly articulating the president’s message [that] does not appear to understand the president’s message.”
Dubke told POLITICO he was disappointed White House staff would complain in the press rather than in real time.
“It was a brainstorming session and I really wish they had spoken up in the room so that we could have had an open and honest conversation,” he said. “It is unproductive adjudicating internal discussions through the media.”
As for the rebranding remark, Dubke said that had been misinterpreted. “There is not a need for a rebranding but there is a need to brand the first 100 days,” Dubke said. “Because if we don’t do it the media is going to do it. That’s what our job is.”
Trump’s communications team is now plotting to divide their first 100 days into three categories of accomplishments, according to people familiar with plans: “prosperity” (such as new manufacturing jobs, reduced regulations and pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal), “accountability” (following through on swamp-draining campaign promises such as lobbying restrictions) and “safety/security” (including the dramatic reduction in border crossing and the strike in Syria).
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