Child President

Report: Trump’s Staff Steal Documents So He Won’t Sign Them

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

It's hard to imagine that Trump's White House could be any more chaotic and dysfunctional than we already know it to be but, on the other hand, maybe it's not. Maybe this doesn't require a suspension of disbelief at all.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward's new book "Fear: Trump in the White House" includes many astonishing anecdotes and juvenile insults that are sure to make headlines, but it also tells us something about how policy is made in the White House. Or rather, how some policies are not made.

According to Woodward's reporting based on interviews with current and former White House officials, Trump's top staffers and cabinet members have routinely ignored his orders and, in some cases, literally snatched documents off Trump's desk so he wouldn't see or sign them.

The book opens with a dramatic scene. Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the Oval Office desk.

The letter would have withdrawn the US from a critical trade agreement with South Korea. Trump's aides feared the fallout could jeopardize a top-secret national security program: the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within just seven seconds.

Woodward reports Cohn was "appalled" that Trump might sign the letter. "I stole it off his desk," Cohn told an associate. "I wouldn't let him see it. He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country."

Cohn was not alone. Former staff secretary Rob Porter worked with Cohn and used the same tactic on multiple occasions, Woodward writes. In addition to literally stealing or hiding documents from Trump's desk, they sought to stall and delay decisions or distract Trump from orders they thought would endanger national security.

Absent any other satisfactory explanation, I've wondered why South Korea has been exempted from Trump's global trade war which hasn't even spared our closest neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

I certainly didn't think the explanation for South Korea's good fortunes would rest on someone literally stealing orders from Trump's desk, but maybe this a failure of imagination on my part.

In related news, Woodward also writes that Secretary of Defense James Mattis straight up ignored an order from Trump to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  • muselet

    Ordinarily, I would have doubts about such dramatic and self-serving tales of derring-do.

    “Got to protect the country,” Our Hero declared proudly, even though no one had asked him a question. “Stealing a document off the Resolute Desk is what a Real Man does in times of crisis.” He struck a Superman-with-his-fists-on-his-hips pose and stared moodily into the middle distance.


    However, this is the Trump administration we’re talking about, so there may be a grain of truth hiding amid the self-congratulation. And the fervent denials from those named in the book makes that grain of truth a wee bit bigger.

    Which is utterly terrifying.


  • Tony Lavely

    Will they be looking for an award now? As in: I stayed with them to save the country; surely I deserve *some* recognition.

    • Christopher Foxx

      “Sure I enabled him. But only to a degree. So I’m a good guy, right?”

      Uh, no.

  • Draxiar

    I’m not saying someone would have to go full Jaime Lannister to the Mad King but anyone think that maybe even the Secret Service would step in if trump went too far with his madness? I know they’re trained to take a bullet…yet I do have to wonder…

    • Scopedog

      I know. I’ve been wondering for some time whether we will see a reverse version of Seven Days In May, where it’s the military staging a coup to save the country from the President who really is out of his fucking mind.

    • katanahamon

      Or wait for a Dem President, then have a dinner for right wing Supreme Court justices hosted by Walder Frey..

      • Draxiar

        Things didn’t end well for the Frey’s either…hosted by the faceless men maybe?

  • katanahamon

    I have a better idea..impeach, indict, incarcerate.

    • Badgerite

      Or institutionalize. The man if nuts. #25th Amendment.