The White House press shop also offered contradictory statements about Porter, though it’s hard to tell whether that’s simply because other West Wing officials were misleading them. The communications team has hardly distinguished itself, though, beginning in the first days of the presidency, when it went to war with a false claim about inauguration crowds, then introduced “alternative facts” into the lexicon.
Why do so many White House staffers lie? It might come from their boss. As Brian Stelter noted, the president shamelessly changed the meaning of a comment he’d heard on television about the House Intelligence Committee memo, refashioning it into a bludgeon against ranking Democrat Adam Schiff:
Washington is also filled with Trump appointees who have found themselves facing charges that they are unqualified for the offices they hold, unethical in how they have used them, or both at once. Axios reveals that Trump is considering appointing his personal pilot, John Dunkin, to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. The nugget of news produced an immediate tizzy, as yet another case of Trump trying to select someone close to him without obvious qualification for an important job. The immediate reaction is perhaps unfair to Dunkin, who is little known and may very well be suited to the job.
It’s not unfair to Trump, though. One of his senior advisers is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been given a sweeping portfolio of complex tasks, despite no experience in government; he is working without a permanent security clearance, and reportedly may not receive one until Mueller’s probe is complete because of unknown issues the special counsel is investigating. Another senior adviser is Kushner’s wife, and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who enjoys the trappings of White House work but on Monday said it was inappropriate to ask her about the many accusations of sexual misconduct against the president.
To head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Trump chose Ben Carson, who had endorsed Trump for president after ending his own campaign, but had publicly said he was not qualified for the gig. To head HUD’s largest regional office, Trump appointed Lynne Patton, who had no experience in housing but worked for years for the Trump family and spoke at the Republican National Convention.
Appointees with more obvious qualifications keep turning out to be flawed in other ways. Trump selected as commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, who retained investments in companies with links to the Kremlin until they were revealed in the document dump known as the Paradise Papers. He appointed another Wall Street billionaire, Carl Icahn, as a senior adviser on regulatory issues, until Icahn precipitously quit after questions from The New Yorker about whether he was using the job to further his own interests.