In his new book, One Damn Thing After Another, former Attorney General Bill Barr recalls the slow implosion of Donald Trump through 2020.
As the COVID-19 crisis was raging and the world was desperate for medical specifics, Trump took over press briefings by experts to instead focus on his own thoughts. It was disastrous. Not only did he create some of the most notorious soundbites of the Trump years, but he also drew ridicule for his lack of knowledge about basic facts.
"His stubborn insistence on giving daily rambling ad hoc commentary on the pandemic, starting with his interminable and cringe-inducing press conferences in March and April" was the most damaging, wrote Barr. "The polling and other feedback made it clear that these televised appearances had become a liability. People were appalled. The President seemed incapable of maintaining a consistent message. He undermined his credibility by making imprecise and exaggerated statements. Policies seemed to drift and morph without coherent explanation. He indulged his penchant for casting blame on others and in all directions, and was drawn into small-minded wrangling with governors or other politicians with whom he disagreed."
Inside the White House, Barr described small "squabbles" that became public news and gave a sense of "dysfunction" and instability at a time that Americans needed it most. Private fights between epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro went public. Navarro was against the two-week shutdown that attempted to pause an ever-increasing death rate. He also ranted about hydroxychloroquine being a miracle drug, based on a study that proved the drug was effective, but only in considerably high doses.
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Meanwhile, Trump was facing off with science and medicine reporters in the press room. Barr said that he "allowed journalists to get under his skin, and the press conferences became marked by stupid exchanges."
He explained that the more Trump talked, the lower his approval ratings sank. "Whenever he did take a break, his approval ratings started heading back up. But then he resumed his gabfests, and his ratings would head back down again," Barr wrote.
After a few weeks, Barr said that he told Trump that he was killing his own presidency.
"Mr. President, I think you’re getting massively overexposed," Barr recalled telling Trump. "By campaign season, people will be sick of seeing you.”
Trump exclaimed that his press conference ratings were spectacular. “We are getting huge audiences. There has never been anything like it.”
Barr tried to explain that the ratings showed that people were worried about the pandemic, "but it doesn’t mean they like what they’re seeing. I think you need to stop these daily briefings and be a lot more selective."
He described Trump as giving him a blank look. "He couldn’t fathom the idea that people would ever tire of him," the book said.
Barr's new book is on sale Tuesday, and Raw Story has full coverage here.
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