Troye joins a long line and growing list of former Trump aides — including former national security adviser John Bolton, former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former director of national intelligence Dan Coats, former Navy secretary Richard Spencer, former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security Miles Taylor, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen — who have spoken out in scathing terms about Trump. All but Mattis, Coats and Kelly have publicly called for Trump’s defeat in November.
This. Is. Not. Normal.
We should not lose sight of how unprecedented these denunciations are, coming from those who have worked so closely with Trump. There have certainly been aides before who have publicly criticized a president who was still in office, but all pale by comparison with what these former aides are saying about Trump.
President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, admitted in 1981 that he had his doubts about whether supply-side economics added up. “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers,” he told the Atlantic.
George Stephanopoulos, a former senior White House adviser, released a memoir in 1999 criticizing President Bill Clinton “for selfishly risking his Presidency on a foolish dalliance and arrogantly trying to fix it himself, for lying about it and sending others out to lie for him, for paralyzing his policy agenda and making his accusers look like prophets instead of fools.”
Former defense secretary Robert Gates rebuked President Barack Obama in a 2014 memoir, writing that he wasn’t committed to his own strategy in Afghanistan: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”
All these revelations shocked Washington at the time, but they are remarkably mild compared with what we are hearing now. None of these officials called the president they served unfit, nor did any of them endorse an opposing candidate. Imagine the apoplexy if any of these insiders had said what so many former Trump aides now say.
Mattis: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
Asked about Mattis’s comments, Kelly said: “I agree with him.” The Post has reported that in private Kelly is even more scathing, describing the president “as a narcissist who does not understand the military, cares only about his political fortunes and is unqualified to be president.” Kelly has not spoken out to dispute these characterizations or to defend the president in any way — even when Trump was quoted calling the nation’s war dead “suckers” and “losers.”
Bolton: “I’m very clearly of the view that Donald Trump’s not competent to be president. He’s not up to the job.”
Taylor: “I came away completely convinced based on firsthand experience that the president was ill-equipped and wouldn’t become equipped to do his job effectively — and what’s worse, was actively doing damage to our security.”
Some of the former officials even question Trump’s loyalty to the United States. Vindman told the Atlantic: “President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.” Bob Woodward reported in his new book that Coats believed “that Putin had something on Trump,” because this was the only way to explain the president’s behavior.
The standard White House spin is to disparage the critics as “disgruntled” ex-employees. The implication is that all have some dark, mysterious motive for disparaging Trump. Maybe they all have fee disputes at Trump’s golf clubs? (That was the absurd innuendo Trump employed to discredit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.) It seems more likely that the reason they are all disgruntled is that they realized they were working for a president who is incompetent, ill-intentioned and irredeemable.
It would be good if more former Trump officials — especially Mattis and Kelly — publicly urged voters not to give Trump another four years to damage our country. But even if they don’t, what the administration veterans have already said constitutes the most damning verdict ever delivered of any president by his own aides. Voters should pay heed.
Watch Opinions videos: