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A Warning summary


A political tell-all of an administration in disarray

4.1 (37 ratings)
25 mins
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    A Warning
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    Despite their best efforts, experienced officials are unable to rein in the president’s worst impulses.

    It’s a crisp December morning, and Donald Trump is tweeting. With a few taps on his phone, the president informs the world he’s pulling U.S. forces out of Syria. It’s news to his millions of Twitter followers. Unfortunately, it’s also news to the officials at the Pentagon.

    The unexpected announcement runs counter to the careful plans put together by the intelligence community. Most officials believe the move is disastrous for U.S. interests in the area. As one top aide remarks, “People are going to fucking die because of this.”

    The decision is particularly disturbing to Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis. The former Marine Corps general is a respected veteran and a sober, disciplined leader. He feels he cannot stand by such a short-sighted policy. Within a day, he announces his resignation.

    By 2018, this story was typical for the Trump administration.

    Despite being an unconventional candidate, Trump entered the White House with a fairly conventional team of advisors and cabinet officials. These political insiders, a so-called “steady state” of experienced policy-makers, were determined to keep the government operating somewhat normally. But the constant chaos caused by Trump’s unstable leadership was driving them away. 

    The key message here is: Despite their best efforts, experienced officials are unable to rein in the president’s worst impulses.

    The loose collection of officials who make up this “steady state” is not trying to undermine the president. They are merely trying to maintain the type of order and restraint necessary to run the country smoothly.

    Trump’s impulsiveness and lack of attention make this nearly impossible. Even giving the president a standard policy briefing is a challenge. Officials normally provide the chief executive with detailed reports about complex policy issues. With Trump, aides must distill their briefings down to a single point or flashy picture. Otherwise, they’re ignored.

    When the president does engage with issues, his solutions are often impractical or outright illegal. On school shootings, he has suggested arming teachers. On immigration, he’s proposed detaining migrants at Guantanamo Bay. Rather than govern, advisors must constantly steer him away from such unwise ideas.

    As pragmatic administration officials leave in frustration, those who remain are die-hard supporters, like anti-immigration hardliner Stephen Miller. The danger is that Miller and those like him will only encourage the worst aspects of Trump’s character. But what exactly is Trump’s character?

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    What is A Warning about?

    A Warning (2019) presents a harrowing view of the inner workings of the Donald Trump presidency. Penned by an anonymous White House insider, it details the tensions and turmoil behind the scenes of the most chaotic administration in modern American history.

    Who should read A Warning?

    • Concerned citizens seeking to understand the current political zeitgeist
    • Political junkies eager for the latest White House gossip
    • Activists hoping to hamper the current administration

    About the Author

    The author, who remains anonymous, is a senior Trump administration official who made headlines with a New York Times op-ed titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” published in the fall of 2018. While many have speculated as to the author’s true identity, the individual has chosen to remain nameless to avoid compromising their position. 

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