National Press Club

New book from Yahoo reporter paints unflattering picture of first two years of Trump's cabinet

June 30, 2019 | By Louise D. Walsh | ldwalsh@earthlink.net

Former National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane moderates a panel with author Alexander Nazaryan (center) and Republican political consultant Rick Wilson at a Club Headliners book event on June 27. Nazaryan's book, "The Best People: Trump's Cabinet and the Siege on Washington," is a critical analysis of Trump's controversial two years in office with its scandals and embarrassments.

Former National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane moderates a panel with author Alexander Nazaryan (center) and Republican political consultant Rick Wilson at a Club Headliners book event on June 27. Nazaryan's book, "The Best People: Trump's Cabinet and the Siege on Washington," is a critical analysis of Trump's controversial two years in office with its scandals and embarrassments.

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

Yahoo reporter Alexander Nazaryan's examination of the first two years of President Trump’s Cabinet amid scandals, indictments, embarrassments and resignations in light of the Trump's campaign pledge to hire only “the best people" paints a harsh picture of life inside The White House.

Nazarian, author of “The Best People: Trump’s Cabinet and the Siege on Washington” was joined on Thursday, June 27, at the National Press Club Headliners book event by veteran GOP political strategist Rick Wilson for a discussion of his book. Former Club President Angela Greiling Keane, Politico’s deputy managing editor for states coverage, moderated the event.

“I honestly can’t think of a [Cabinet-level] person…who is effective or efficient” and who reflects well on that department, said Nazaryan, who covers national affairs for Yahoo.

Greiling Keane asked both men which cabinet members, appointees or advisors had done a good job.

Nazaryan named former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He also favorably mentioned former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.

Wilson echoed Nazaryan's critique of the current Cabinet. “I can’t say anyone on the Cabinet [level] is doing a good job right now,” he said. He criticized the Treasury Department for failing to check Trump’s trade wars. “[The] EPA is run by a coal lobbyist,” he added, which doesn’t “speak to the preservation of our national environment in a good way.”

Both men said the administration is weakened by having too many top level officials who "acting" and unconfirmed by the Senate.

Nazaryan said the book relies on anonymous sources “because people won’t talk otherwise.”

“The only federal employees who would talk to me on the record,” Nazaryan said, were union members ”who felt protected and asked that he identify their union status."

Wilson said he too encountered similar reticence among Republican members of Congress. They won’t make “the slightest criticism” of the president for fear of retaliation.

Nazaryan interviewed Trump last February in the Oval Office. He said the president had “an outer-borough charm” very familiar to New Yorkers, but that he’d also seen work well in the South.

“He didn’t want to talk about anyone but himself,” during the interview, Nazaryan explained, and didn’t appear familiar with the work his Cabinet was doing.

Wilson said he sees Trump as a product of New York’s tabloid culture: “I don’t think he has the cognitive landscape to look at super complex, multi-variant problems. He’s a man driven by his needs and emotions.”