"Mr. President, you're brilliant, but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye."
Donald Trump's enormous ego and narcissism forced his chief economic adviser to fake a bad phone connection with him to end an interminable conversation so the adults in the room could do their work.
The humiliating yet illuminating moment was revealed by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) in an appearance on CNN.
Carper explained that while in a discussion with Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and Trump's top economic adviser, Trump himself called in from Asia. Carper had hoped to discuss taxes and other economic issues with Cohn and Trump, but the call soon devolved into Trump just rambling on and on.
"Fifteen minutes later, the president is still talking," Carper said. So he advised Cohn to pretend he had a bad connection — with the president of the United States — so he could get off the phone call.
Cohn then did just that, and hung up on Trump.
HARLOW: At one point, it's reported that you looked over to his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and said to him, quote, we're not going to have a real conversation here, can you just tell the president he's brilliant and say we're losing the connection and hang up – seriously?
CARPER: Seriously, and he did. And we've been having about a half an hour conversation with Gary, with Marc Short and with Shahira Knight, three people from the administration, having a great conversation, they were asking questions to some of the more moderate Democrats, and trying to see if there's some kind of middle ground on tax reform.
About 30 minutes into the call, Gary gets up and takes a call on his cell phone, comes back into the room, and he says, we have somebody calling in from Asia, and it was the president, which was nice. Nice of him to do that.
Fifteen minutes later, the president is still talking. And I said to Gary — it was a room where we're all sitting around this big table — and I said, "Gary, why don't you do this, just take the phone from, you know, your cell phone back and just say, 'Mr. President, you're brilliant, but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"
And that's what he did, and he hung up.
And then we went back to having the kind of conversation where we needed to, where they asked the right kind of questions, looking for consensus and common ground and I think we identified a little bit.
BERMAN: So, you're saying Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get the president off the phone?
CARPER: I'm sorry, say again?
BERMAN: Are you saying Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get the president off the phone?
CARPER: Well, I wouldn’t – I don't want to throw him under the bus, but yes.
Trump's underlings do not respect him, and repeated reporting from inside the White House reflect this posture toward him — a sentiment shared by millions of Americans.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "moron," after being forced to deal with Trump's bumbling approach to diplomacy. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster apparently described Trump as an "idiot," a "dope," and "a kindergartner."
Now Cohn, in collaboration with a senator, lied to Trump just to get him to shut up.
The pattern is clear. Again and again, White House insiders have described Trump's behavior as that of a temperamental toddler who requires constant adult supervision, rather than a 71-year-old world leader.
Unlike most of his predecessors — of both parties — Trump is not growing into the job. If anything, episodes like this and the contempt he has provoked from his inner circle and the population at large show that he is shrinking in the job.
It is arguably the most important position in the world, and it is currently held by the smallest man to ever do so.