President Donald Trump is growing increasingly concerned about what investigators might find as they probe his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
The president’s well-documented management style — put together a team of “mini-Trumps,” pit them against one another and stand back while they compete for his approval — may have encouraged “rogue operators” to engage in risky behavior, according to Trump associates who spoke to The Atlantic.
“He likes to pit advisers against each other,” one former campaign aide told the magazine. “He likes the infighting … It’s definitely an environment where you might feel pressured to go the free-range-kid model and say, ‘Hey, let’s see what I can drum up to impress him with.'”
“Someone could easily take it a step too far trying to gain something that no one else could gain,” the former aide said.
Another source close to the president expressed concerns that government investigators would want a return on their investment, which turns every connection to Russia into a potential bombshell.
“My fear is that a bunch of people were freelancing — doing things not thinking about the repercussions, but thinking Trump would be so impressed by it,” that source told The Atlantic.
Trump associates said the campaign was populated by independent operators, many of whom had no previous political or government experience — and a hands-off boss who values boldness.
“If they’re stupid enough to be doing stuff like that, they’re also probably too stupid to realize that there are various [foreign] intelligence agencies … that have the goods on them,” said one GOP operative with extensive foreign-policy experience. “They’re probably sitting on tapes — what if they get motive to release them?”
The former campaign staffer suggested Trump aides might have colluded with Russia without realizing their actions were illegal.
“Is it possible that he was surrounded with people who didn’t even realize what they were doing was inappropriate?” the former staffer said. “You’d have to be pretty stupid — but there are some pretty stupid people in the Trump camp.”