Anonymous senior officials in the White House blatantly contradicted themselves about Donald Trump's behavior, and are attempting to cover up their cowardice by acting as saviors and martyrs instead.
Working in the Trump White House is becoming a new go-to answer for "Job you wouldn't want to do no matter how well it paid."
But some senior administration officials seem dead-set on staying, even if it means twisting themselves into logical pretzels to defend their decision, and their boss.
Axios reports that a number of these senior officials have some excuses all ready to go to defend their continued presence in this corrupt and dangerous administration. And in their attempts to excuse their cowardice, they're telegraphing some kind of martyr identity to the nation.
Predictably, none of the officials would speak on the record. But in Axios co-founder Mike Allen's recounting, their "reasoning" is not only thin, but also contradictory.
Some of the officials insisted that they act as a firewall for Donald Trump's most unhinged ideas, stressing the "urgent importance of having smart, sane people around Trump to fight his worst impulses."
Without these gallant officials surrounding Trump, whom they claim they have to "collectively steer ... to more conventional policy responses," the country could see "a trade war with China, massive deportations, and a government shutdown to force construction of a Southern wall."
It's optimistic — and perhaps a touch arrogant — of them to assume those things won't happen under this president, when that litany reads like Trump's wish list to Santa Claus.
But that notion of protecting the world from Trump being even Trumpier is contradicted by their claims that he's actually not that bad of a guy, when the cameras are off and the adulation is turned up to 11.
All of them talk up the president as more reasonable off Twitter and TV than on it. This gives them hope (though almost all increasingly say it's fleeting hope) he will listen to his better angels, or at least the pleas of Ivanka.
The "pleas of Ivanka" do not seem to have carried much weight with her father thus far. Besides, she's too busy not speaking out against his white supremacist blathering, excusing his blatant sexism, and outsourcing her products to have time for a heart-to-heart with her father.
And if it is actually true that Trump is "more reasonable" behind closed doors, how does that square with the portrait of the barely-contained ethical klutz the officials put forth as their main justification for remaining in the White House?
This is not Schrödinger's President; Trump cannot simultaneously be too inane and dangerous for his staff to leave, while also being just a normal, chill dude behind the scenes.
And certainly, these anonymous officials seem to know this, which is why they portray themselves as the nation's — and the world's — martyrs, in the ultimate example of taking one for the team, covering up the cowardice evinced by not being willing to go on the record with such grave concerns as "If we're not here, the president might get bored and annoyed and take it out on immigrants or China or who knows, maybe the sun."
And then, there is the self-interest involved.
"They also know they are one step away from an even bigger job in government, so it's hard to just walk away."
Yes, it is indeed very hard to "just walk away" from defending the country and the world from a petulant, bigoted, reckless egomaniac with his finger half an inch from the button at all times, when sticking around might mean snagging a nice corner office.
If these officials care about the future of this country, and if one of their roles as they see it is to rein Trump in when he shows signs of running amok, perhaps hiding behind anonymity and immediately downplaying the risks they themselves assert is not the best practice.
The American people deserve to know the truth about their president, especially if the truth is that he is so unfit to govern that his own senior staff considers corralling him daily as their number one job duty.