Jonathan Karl: Almost Comedically Unqualified Trump Staffer Dangerously Led Much of the White House Up to Jan. 6th

I have… the best people.”

Donald Trump, 2015

Jonathan Karl’s new book, “Betrayal, the Final Act of the Trump Show” as reported, in part, through excerpts found in the Atlantic, promises to fill in much of the back story as to how Donald Trump took the United States through the disastrous period, beginning roughly on December 1st and up to and through January 6th and very nearly overturned an election.

Much of it can be traced all the way back to a very young and inexperienced staffer, one of the first hired by the campaign, Johnny McEntee. McEntee pulled off something that only happened in a dysfunctional organization like the Trump White House. McEntee had been fired as Trump’s bodyman early on due to gambling and other issues, and was then rehired in January 2020, just as Trump was coming out of the first impeachment proceedings, with Trump determined to never let himself be put in such a situation again. Trump put McEntee partly in charge of firing everyone deemed insufficiently loyal.

According to Karl’s book, McEntee’s actions taken after the election played a major role in events that very nearly destroyed democracy in this country and overturned the election.

“McEntee and his enforcers made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible. They backed the president’s manic drive to overturn the election, and helped set the stage for the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

Thanks to them, in the end, the elusive ‘adults in the room’ — those who might have been willing to confront the president or try to control his most destructive tendencies—were silenced or gone. But McEntee was there — bossing around Cabinet secretaries, decapitating the civilian leadership at the Pentagon, and forcing officials high and low to state their allegiance to Trump.”

Experienced hands, the people who know how to do a job and where it fits in the context of a functioning White House know they swore an oath to the Constitution, not Donald Trump. These experienced hands were considered disloyal and fired. In any other situation, given the name of any other country, this would be called peremptory action needed to topple a democracy and create a government loyal to a man, not a nation or its Constitution.

But it gets worse. Speaking of the 29-year-old McEntee, Karl writes:

One of Trump’s most high-profile Cabinet secretaries described him to me as ‘a f*cking idiot.’ But in 2020, his power was undeniable. Trump knew he was the one person willing to do anything Trump wanted. As another senior official told me, ‘He became the deputy president…

One dead giveaway that a White House is reeling out of control is when the President’s aides begin to deem proximity to the president as the pecking order in official power. When White House staffers believe they can start telling cabinet secretaries and vice-presidents what to do, simply because that staffer talks to the president five times a day, the situation is bound to fall apart at some point.

“…When Trump wasn’t happy with the answers he was getting from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, McEntee set up a rogue legal team,

“This back-channel operation played a previously unknown role in the effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the vote. Just days before January 6, McEntee sent Pence’s office an absurd memo making the case that Pence would be following Thomas Jefferson’s example if he used his power to declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election.”

No one will ever forget the unforgivable fawning Pence showed during some of Trump’s worst abuses as president. And yet it is becoming increasingly clear that Mike Pence played a major role in preserving democracy in this country at considerable danger to himself. When Pence faced the greatest challenge in his life, he performed at his best. We should all aspire to the same goal.

However, none of this should ever have been allowed to ride almost solely upon Mike Pence’s shoulders. It just happened to work out that way. After all, loyal or not, Pence was one person that even McEntee himself couldn’t fire.
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jmiciak@yahoo.com and on Twitter @JasonMiciak