Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Donald Trump over claims in a new book by an anonymous White House insider that aides to the commander-in-chief have to “dumb down” briefing materials to a single key point in order to make it easier for Trump to understand.
Hitting back at the suggestion in the book “A Warning,” penned by an anonymous senior White House official, that Trump was unable to focus his attention on more than one point at a time, Huckabee Sanders claimed that Trump read “more than anybody I know.”
Speaking in an interview with Fox News’ Steve Hilton on Sunday, Sanders declared: “I’ve watched this process play out so many times, sat in hundreds of meetings with the president, and the idea that he can only take in one or two bullets is absurd. I’ve watched him consume massive amount of information, process it quickly and make decisions.”
Asked about the persistent rumor that Trump doesn’t like to read briefings, Sanders responded: “He reads more than anybody I know. Every single foreign trip we actually would laugh about the fact he has boxes upon boxes, file boxes where he reads for hours. The rest of us want to take a break, we wanna sleep, the president works the entire time.”
In excerpts of “A Warning” that were published by Business Insider, the author wrote that some officials in the Trump administration were instructed to reduce briefing materials in presentations because Trump “couldn’t digest too many slides.”
“They were told to cut back the overall message (on complicated issues such as military readiness or the federal budget) to just three main points. Eh, that was still too much,” the author wrote. “Soon, West Wing aides were exchanging ‘best practices’ for success in the Oval Office. The most salient advice? Forget the three points.”
The author continued: “Come in with one main point and repeat it — over and over again, even if the president inevitably goes off on tangents — until he gets it. Just keep steering the subject back to it. ONE point. Just that one point. Because you cannot focus the commander in chief’s attention on more than one goddamned thing over the course of a meeting, okay?”
The author explains that some officials reacted to the advice with disbelief, suggesting it was not possible to “dumb down their work to this level.” Yet those who dismissed the aides’ advice “invariably paid the price” when they approached Trump expecting an in-depth policy debate.
“‘What the fuck is this?’ the president would shout, looking at a document one of them handed him. ‘These are just words. A bunch of words. It doesn’t mean anything,'” the author wrote.
A report from The Washington Post in 2018 claimed that the president did not like to read briefings because it is not his “style of learning.”