Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full, if heavily redacted, report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was chock full of juicy tidbits that painted a picture of a White House consumed by suspicion and paranoia—including the president’s deep-seated hatred of anyone who dare listen to what he says and then write those things down in his presence (the horror!)
Trump’s near-pathological distrust of note-takers was further confirmed by the New York Times on Sunday, when the paper reported the president once yelled at his former National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster for jotting down his thoughts during a meeting.
“Why are you always writing in that book?” Trump reportedly snapped at McMaster, after watching him commit the unforgivable crime of taking notes on official business.
Allegations of Trump’s mini-tantrum at McMaster come less than one week after Mueller’s report claimed the president had a similar meltdown over then-White House counsel Don McGhan’s note-taking, during which he reportedly claimed that: “Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.”
“I do think there’s also a pervasive sense in this White House that at some point you’re going to have to set the record straight or give your perspective on events that took place, or actions you took — or didn’t take — as the case may be,” former White House advisor Cliff Sims told the Times. (Sims evidently took enough notes himself to write a salacious memoir of his time in the Trump administration.)
So while White House staffers may feel the need to contemporaneously record their experience to provide cover for some future scandal, I leave it to you, dear reader, to speculate about why the president is so averse to having a paper trail of his words and actions. It’s a real mystery.