WTF

Trump Phoned Flynn in the Middle of the Night to Talk Currency Value

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The bar has been set very high, but this is the most bizarre and bewildering Trump story I've read so far since he was sworn into office.

Trump reportedly called Michael Flynn in the middle of the night to ask him if a stronger or weaker dollar is better.

So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.

Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.

Trump was not thrilled with that response ― but that may have been a function of the time of day. Trump had placed the call at 3 a.m., according to one of Flynn’s retellings ― although neither the White House nor Flynn’s office responded to requests for confirmation about that detail.

It gives me no pleasure to question the mental health or competence of someone, but I think we have to ask yourselves if Trump is mental ill or challenged in some manner.

Even accepting that Trump is an enormous idiot and unqualified for his position as a given, that doesn't explain a 3 a.m. phone call to the entirely wrong person to ask about the relative value of reserve currency.

And what the hell was he doing up at that hour? Why was he pondering the value of the dollar in the middle of the night?

It's anyone's guess. Maybe he was up all night watching infomercials about gold. That's plausible, isn't it?

Considering that Flynn himself is a crank, we should be concerned that Flynn or someone very close to him thought it was appropriate to leak this. They're alarmed, too.

The answer to the question, by the way, is neither. To ask if a stronger or weaker dollar is better is a misnomer because there are many other global economic factors to consider before you can say which is more beneficial at any given time. A weaker dollar benefits exporters and the tourism industry because foreign currency converts to dollars at a more favorable ratio. A strong dollar, on the other hand, lowers the cost of imports and the price you buy for everyday items.

  • mnpollio

    Oh dear! The Rancid Cheetoh is still trolling at all hours of the night asking questions of inappropriate parties. Given that the excuse for his insulting our allies on the telephone was that he “was tired”, this does not bode well that Little Donnie is not getting his rest and nap time. I wonder which allies will be insulted this week because the Ingrown Ginger Pube is not getting his rest.

  • Draxiar

    But he’s such a savvy business man….

  • Good Lord, how does he not know this? Every time one of his supporters brags about what a good businessman he is, they need to have this rubbed in their faces. It’s frigging Econ 101 stuff.

    • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

      It’s actually complicated. The answer to whether a “stronger or weaker dollar is better” is “better for what.” What is your goal? Happier constituents or economic boon? Global stability and faith in the dollar or reduced trade deficits?

      A strong dollar means we can buy more foreign currency per US dollar. This means our purchase power is greater and we can get more stuff cheaper. The benefit here is that consumers get what they want at a lower price and are, therefore, happier. The flipside, of course, is that it makes US goods more expensive to foreign markets, therefore decreased exports, therefore economic headwind.

      A weak dollar means a foreign ccy buys more US dollars per unit. This means the opposite of the above. It means our exports increase and that’s good for the economy, but the consumer has to pay more for things. But it also hurts (possibly devastatingly so) foreign governments causing global turmoil and instability. It also makes US Dollars less appealing as a global reserve currency, which means that we would have to borrow for our national debt at a higher rate (ouch!).

      Generally speaking a WEAK dollar is “better” for the economy, but even that is oversimplifying things dramatically. And this doesn’t touch on the fact that currency manipulation would kick off an all-out currency war with China that ends very badly for everyone involved.

      The best answer I can offer is, of course, somewhere in the middle.

      • Being an supposed international businessman and billionaire I would expect Herr Hair to know this. Honestly don’t think he knows the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.

    • muselet

      More like high school Intro Econ.

      –alopecia

  • Username1016

    What’s really odd, to me, is that he thought he needed to call someone instead of, you know, googling it? You can get answers to pretty much ALL your random middle-of-the-night questions with a plain old laptop or smartphone. Didn’t occur to him?

    • Buffalodavid

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling that Twitter is the sum total of Trump’s computer knowledge. He never has mentioned Facebook, or any other facet of “The Cyber”. When he bragged about his son being a marvel on the computer, he sounded like a grandpa showboating about it. I’m willing to bet Barron’s expertise is no better or no worse that a average kid his age.

      • ninjaf

        I think you are correct. I remember during the campaign that people had said he doesn’t use email because he couldn’t understand how to do it, despite many attempts to do so. But Twitter he was able to catch on to without much effort.

        • Christopher Foxx

          But Twitter he was able to catch on to without much effort.

          Because his thoughts never get beyond 140 characters anyway.

  • muselet

    In the middle of a sleepless night, Donald Trump wonders what effect on the US economy the value of the dollar relative to other currencies might have.

    Sure, I can see that. The questions that bubble up at such times are exceedingly random.

    Trump picks up the phone to ask someone the answer.

    I can see that, too. It’s odd behavior in the wee hours—most people would jot a note and pursue the question after sunrise—but hey, what good is being President if you can’t disturb some flunky’s sleep?

    Trump chooses to call his National Security Adviser.

    *record scratch* Say what?

    Michael Flynn had the presence of mind to give the right answer rather than wing it, even in the face of Trump’s displeasure. Points for that, anyway (the graceless part of me wants to say Flynn did the right thing because there were no Muslims involved in either the question or the answer).

    It’s going to be a very long four years.

    –alopecia

    • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

      It’s been my experience working with men (why is it always men?) of enormous ego that they sometimes view their subordinates as interchangeable cogs. That is, it doesn’t really matter who you ask because we’re all the same.

      I’ve been yelled at – really screamed at, verbally abused and insulted – in front of a dozen people for things I have absolutely nothing at all to do with. Why? Because my boss didn’t care enough about me to know what the hell I do, nor did he care enough about the guilty party to identify him and yell at the right person (to say nothing of, you know, treating people with respect and not yelling at them in the first place?). I was there, therefore I was “close enough” – what’s the difference between one unimportant cog and another?

      With that said, the point here is that, to Trump, if you’re not Trump and you’re not his immediate family, you are one of the many faceless minions surrounding him. You are of no account – none – and he cannot be bothered with determining who does what. He trusts that, because he’s so f**kin’ special, whoever he does ask will follow up with the right person to ensure that he gets his desired result. And, of course, they will. I’m sure he got a report (in crayon) first thing in the morning answering his question.

      And, of course, getting his desired result will only reinforce this bad behavior.