White House is afraid to let Trump do interviews unless he gets the questions in advance


Devastating revelations from Michael Wolffe's upcoming book from inside the Trump White House have sent Donald Trump reeling, and a newly published excerpt only further exposes Donald Trump's fragility and incompetence.

The new excerpt sets the table for Wolffe's tale of a wholly incompetent and unprepared administration at war with itself — his closest aides and advisers have called him a "fool," an "idiot," and a "child" — but one passage in particular offers insight into just how aware Trump's senior staffers are of his shortcomings.

Wolffe reveals that current White House Communications Director Hope Hicks became an important senior adviser and Trump-wrangler, whose job it is to stroke his ego and protect him from himself.

"It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season," Wolffe wrote. "Instead, the interview went to Fox News' Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand."

Wolffe added, "Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions."

Trump has hidden from non-Fox News outlets for the better part of his presidency, appearing exclusively on the network that gives him softballs and praise since last May.

Wolffe's revelation raises questions about ground rules for the interviews he grants Fox and others.

During his recent golf vacation, for example, Trump gave an interview to The New York Times that was widely criticized for its lack of followup questions. That interview was done without the participation of Trump's staff, but even in that case, it was arranged by Trump confidant and right-wing media figure Christopher Ruddy explicitly because Trump liked the reporter's previous coverage.

But even under those friendly circumstances, Trump was a disaster, spewing a torrent of (unchallenged) lies, and declaring himself King of the Justice Department. It's little wonder, then, that Trump is closing in on a year without a full solo press conference.

Wolffe also revealed that within the West Wing, favorite Trump mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway is also derided as an unmitigated disaster:

Kellyanne Conway, who would put a finger-gun to her head in private about Trump's public comments, continued to mount an implacable defense on cable television, until she was pulled off the air by others in the White House who, however much the president enjoyed her, found her militancy idiotic. (Even Ivanka and Jared regarded Conway's fulsome defenses as cringeworthy.)

Conway, like Trump, has largely seen her television appearances restricted to Fox News, and even those have a tendency to go poorly, or even land her in legal jeopardy.

The incompetence and unfitness revealed in these excerpts is disturbing, if unsurprising. But the knowing complicity of those in Trump's orbit is unforgivable. If only they were less interested in protecting Trump from the press, and more interested in protecting the country from Trump.