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We Pulled the Best ‘Anonymous’ Excerpts So You Can Own Your Thanksgiving Political Debate

Photograph by Benjamin Wofford.

Sure, the ‘Anonymous’ book is getting mixed reviews. But it’s also a how-to for smacking down your Trump-adoring relatives this Thanksgiving. While etiquette experts have offered advice to Americans about avoiding political confrontation, we at Washingtonian have taken an opposite tack, pulling the best snippets from the book so you can troll your relatives with greater ease.

You’re welcome.

Working for Trump is like being “bank robbery hostages.”

White House staffers “developed a bizarre sense of fraternity,” Anonymous writes, like “bank-robbery hostages lying on the floor at gunpoint, unable to sound the alarm but aware that everyone else was stricken with the same fear of the unknown.”

Briefers have to talk to Trump like an elementary school child.

Staffers were warned that Trump could only digest three points at a time—but such advice was quickly scrapped. “Come in with one main point and repeat it…until he gets it,” writes the author. “Because you cannot focus the commander in chief’s attention on more than one goddamned thing over the course of a meeting, okay?”

Trump doesn’t just avoid reading—he refuses to.

Woe to the staffer who would bring in papers for the president, Anonymous writes. ‘”What the fuck is this?’ the president would shout” while looking at a document handed him. “Sometimes he would throw the papers back on the table.”

Government officials are little more than Trump’s “babysitters.”

“Seeing [Trump’s] behavior was both educating and jarring…It was a visceral lesson that we weren’t just appointees of the president. We were glorified government babysitters.”

Trump has a childlike fixation with Clip-Art.

Trump loved graphics in his briefing papers. One graphic that rendered Trump “spellbound,” Anonymous writes, had depicted “certain government and industrial relationships. The basic depiction of interlocked gears, likely pulled from Clip-Art, showed how different elements of the government bureaucracy depended on parts of the private sector. The president was so mesmerized that he showed it off to Oval Office visitors for no apparent reason, leaving us—and them—scratching our heads.”

Aides begged Trump to take more trips—so they didn’t have to suffer his presence.

“Some aides grew so worn down by the roller coaster of presidential whims that they started encouraging him to hold more campaign rallies, putting aside the fact that it wasn’t campaign season,” writes Anonymous.

Trump was such an embarrassment that cabinet officials stopped sending junior officials to meetings—to protect the myth of Trump’s master management style.

“Department and agency heads started insulating their operations from Trump’s whims … They confessed wariness about sending staff to the West Wing for meetings, not wanting more junior officials to see how bad it was or partake in the gross mismanagement.”

Staff laughed at Trump’s fantasy that he would heroically stop a school shooting.

Trump believed he would be a “citizen-hero” if there was a school massacre, Anonymous writes: “‘I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon,’ Trump claimed. We couldn’t contain our laughter.”

No one wanted to be Trump’s chief of staff.

After John Kelly resigned, “Trump was in crisis mode” when Pence aide Nick Ayers declined the job, writes Anonymous. After Chris Christie similarly declined the offer, Trump settled on Mick Mulvaney.

Anonymous continues: “Such is life in the Trump White House that what is usually the most coveted and powerful staff job in Washington cannot be reliably filled,” because candidates know the would “never really in charge. Trump’s children are his chiefs of staff. Random Fox News hosts are his chiefs of staff. Everyone is the chief of staff but the chief of staff.”

Trump seems to think that he’s “hotter” than he used to be.

In one elliptical quote that Anonymous does not elaborate on, Trump is quoted in the Oval Office this way: “I’m hotter than I was then, okay? Because you know you also cool off, right? You do. But I’m much hotter.”

Trump was obsessed with a particular infomercial on Fox.

Anonymous quotes Trump in the Oval Office as telling staff, “This guy, have you seen him? ‘My Pillow.’ He’s unbelievable. He buys all the airtime on TV. It’s terrific. And he’s a big, big Trump supporter.”

White House staffers describe Trump’s cognitive shallowness in ways far worse than have been reported.

Alluding to numerous cases where senior staff members called Trump “a fucking moron” with the understanding of a “fifth or sixth grader,” Anonymous notes that these are merely “the tamest descriptions used internally to express exasperation with the commander in chief.”

Trump may love Sean Hannity, but he’s even more swayed by Lou Dobbs.

On matters of policy, Anonymous notes that the president adores the Fox News personality Lou Dobbs—”one of his favorite sources for news analysis”—and “goes to bed with Lou’s ideas floating in his mind,” particularly regarding “conspiracy theories and wild speculation about current events.”

“We know this because he regularly brings Lou’s ideas into the Oval Office the next morning,” Anonymous continues, “demanding they be implemented the way Lou said they should be.”

Anonymous adds, “I can’t think of another elected leader in this country who is so easily lured in by obvious carnival barkers.”

Trump is “out of his mind.”

Offering a retort to Trump’s allegation of a massive “Deep State” conspiracy, Anonymous writes that he would like to “respond with a better-substantiated allegation: Trump is out of his mind.”

The government is losing its best and brightest.

“We are losing talented professionals every day because of the president,” writes Anonymous. The result, the author writes, is that “a good chunk of the crises we deal with at the highest levels of government emerge, in part, because no one has an eye on the ball.”

The president is terrified of note-takers.

Aides know when Trump is about to ask his staff to do something unethical because he “starts scanning the room for note takers,” writes Anonymous. “‘What the fuck are you doing?’ he shouted at an aide who was scribbling in a notebook during a meeting … The room went silent … ‘Are you fucking taking notes?’ Trump continued, glaring.”

Trump wanted to tap the White House phone lines.

The president “inquired about the possibility of surreptitiously monitoring the phones of White House staff,” writes Anonymous. “Here was a man who was apoplectic at the (completely false) theory that Barack Obama had his ‘wires tapped’ at Trump Tower, but who was more than happy to tap those of the people around him.”

The president fantasized about eliminating the third branch of government.

“Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the fucking judges. There shouldn’t be any at all, really,” Trump is alleged to have said one day. Anonymous relates that Trump then ordered his staff to send a bill to Congress reducing the number of judges.

Trump likes Cabinet vacancies.

Anonymous writes that Trump sees “acting” cabinet officials as more likely to curry favor and carry out his bidding, in the hopes of one day being nominated for their position full-time.

The president embarrasses himself on calls with foreign leaders.

White House staffers familiar with the content of Trump’s international phone calls “were red-faced with embarrassment,” Anonymous writes. To his own staff, Trump “came off like a complete amateur, using important calls to brag about himself and make awkward comments.”

Trump is like a “scrawny kid” in the thrall of Putin and Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s “hero-worship” of Putin was “dumbfounding” to White House insiders, writes Anonymous. In another episode, Anonymous writes that Trump disregarded sensitive information about a missile system form his own intelligence agencies, telling them, “I don’t care. I believe Putin.”

Responding to Trump’s plaudits for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—”We fell in love,” Trump said—Anonymous writes that “I never thought I would witness a grown man in the Oval Office fawn over a thuggish autocrat like an adoring teenage fan.”

“It’s almost as if Trump is the scrawny kid,” Anonymous concludes, “trying to suck up to the bully on the playground.”

Trump mused about shooting asylum-seekers at the border.

Trump suggested that American military at the southern border shoot migrants. “Why not?” he asked advisors, according to Anonymous.

White House staff have become “servants” of Trump’s delusions.

Anonymous writes that earlier staffers, who once stood up to Trump’s delusions, have mostly disappeared. “Obsequious pleasers outnumber thoughtful public servants,” Anonymous writes, warning that “the Trump story is briskly moving into a fictional universe.” The President’s advisors, the author adds, have “become an assemblage of servants.”

White House staffers routinely threw around the 25th Amendment.

The provision for removing a mentally incapacitated president has been invoked in the White House, Anonymous writes, who ask, “Is the president still fit for office?” In other cases, Anonymous overheard staffers remark that “we might be getting into ‘Twenty-fifth territory.'”

Trump has turned America into one of his companies.

Anonymous writes that Trump has “turned the government of the United States into one of his companies: a badly managed enterprise defined by a sociopathic personality in the c-suite, rife with infighting, embroiled in lawsuits, falling deeper into debt, allergic to internal and external criticism, open to shady side deals, operating with limited oversight, and servicing its self-absorbed owner at the expense of its customers.”

The consequences of reelecting Trump are dire.

Anonymous concludes that the Trump presidency is “an unmitigated disaster.” While the author refrains from suggesting the person needed to “turn the ship,” Anonymous cautions that “four more years of Trump could very well sink it.”

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Benjamin Wofford
Staff Writer

Benjamin Wofford is a staff writer at Washingtonian.