MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough revealed that President Donald Trump asked for — and then ignored — his advice on sending out the White House press secretary to rebut reports on his Inauguration Day crowds.
The “Morning Joe” host said Friday that acquaintances in the White House called him Jan. 20, during a birthday party for his son, seeking his advice on pushing back on reports comparing Trump’s inauguration crowds to President Barack Obama’s.
“I said, ‘I think it would be a disaster, I think it would be the stupidest thing,’ you know, ‘You better stop it, you’re going to — it’s a horrible way to start it,'” Scarborough said. “Then they called back after (Sean) Spicer’s press conference, and I said, ‘You all look like fools.'”
Trump himself called later that night, and Scarborough tried to explain why petty complaints about crowd size were such a bad idea — and he realized the presidency had already changed him.
“He just — he didn’t get it,” Scarborough said. “It was a different guy, you could just tell. He was completely mesmerized by the office he was in, and the surroundings, and I called Mika and said, ‘He’s gone — he’s lost. The guy that we have known is now in a bubble and any chance for anybody to get to him seems to be lost.'”
Scarborough said he could hear in Trump’s voice that he had been “taken” by the office, and for some reason couldn’t stop talking about the White House phone system.
“I can tell you as somebody that knew him for over a decade, it was subtle, but I knew immediately he was inside that bubble and he had changed,” Scarborough said. “I will say there are a lot of things in Donald Trump that I have seen and other people that have known him for a decade that don’t recognize him now.”
Co-host Willie Geist agreed Trump had been caught up by the trappings of the presidency, pointing to the way he shows off the red button he pushes on his desk to summon a staffer to bring him a Diet Coke.
“Let’s hope that’s the only red button he ever pushes,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough said it was pointless to wonder who could talk the president out of his own worst impulses.
“One of the things he did say in that (January) conversation, I (asked), ‘Who is the person you can talk to and come in and stop you and make you think twice about it?’ and he said, ‘I am that person,'” Scarborough said. “I said to him, ‘That’s unfortunate.’ He said, ‘I know you don’t like that, but that’s how I’ve run my career and that’s how I’m going to run the White House.'”
“It underlines that old saying that the presidency doesn’t build character, it reveals it,” he added. “I would say it not only reveals character, it exaggerates character. Whatever character traits you take into the Oval Office are amplified by your four or eight years — or two and a half years there.”