White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma venue management asks Trump campaign for health plan ahead of rally Pompeo slams Bolton account as spreading ‘lies,’ ‘fully-spun half-truths’ and ‘falsehoods’ Twitter flags Trump tweet featuring fake CNN chyron as ‘manipulated media’ MORE prefers to hire individuals who have “countervailing viewpoints” when asked about his criticism of former aides and Cabinet officials.
“The president makes hiring decisions based on the fact that he likes to have countervailing viewpoints,” McEnany told reporters during a press briefing.
McEnany said she spoke to Trump specifically about his decision to hire John BoltonJohn BoltonBolton asks court to dismiss DOJ suit, citing failure to state a claim Pompeo slams Bolton account as spreading ‘lies,’ ‘fully-spun half-truths’ and ‘falsehoods’ McCarthy slams Bolton book, says it’s a national security risk MORE, his former national security adviser who penned a forthcoming book that offers a scathing picture of the White House. McEnany said Trump told her he likes “to counterbalance my own opinion with individuals who oftentimes have the very opposite opinion of my own.”
“He likes the model of having a ‘team of rivals’ like what we saw in President Lincoln’s administration,” McEnany continued. “I’ve been a part of that. I often see rigorous debate and the president uses his gut and makes the best decision how to move forward.”
Trump has regularly lashed out at former White House aides and Cabinet members, particularly those who have publicly criticized him following their exits. This week he repeatedly lambasted Bolton after excerpts of his book were reported by news outlets, dismissing him as a “liar,” a “disgruntled boring fool” and “incompetent.”
McEnany was asked why Trump hires people he views as “dumb as a rock,” “overrated,” “way over their heads,” “wacko” and “incompetent” — phrases he has used to describe Bolton or other former officials including former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBolton book shows nastiness rules at Trump White House The Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery Deadline for Kansas Senate race passes without Pompeo filing MORE and former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBolton book shows nastiness rules at Trump White House Trump lashes out at Bolton as memoir excerpts offer scathing account of White House The Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery MORE.
McEnany said Bolton had proven those labels to be “particularly true,” noting he praised the president during his time working in the White House before turning to criticize Trump in his memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.”
The Justice Department is currently suing to block the release of the book, arguing it contains classified information. The book, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, describes a deeply dysfunctional White House and portrays Trump as “stunningly uninformed.”
Speaking on CNN earlier Friday, former acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump names new acting director of legislative affairs 12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: ‘We’ve overreacted a little bit’ to coronavirus MORE said Trump “didn’t hire very well” when asked about criticism from Bolton and other former officials.
“He did not have experience in running government and didn’t know how to put together a team that could work well with him,” said Mulvaney, who also served as the director of Trump’s Office of Management and Budget and has since been appointed as his special envoy for Northern Ireland.