President Donald Trump’s documented bizarre behavior continues behind the scenes, according to the new book Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump’s Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington, by Daily Beast reporters Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng. In their book, they share that apparently, when Wisconsin native Reince Priebus was on the job for the first six months or so of Trump’s presidency as his chief of staff, the president routinely interrupted important briefings with questions about — wait for it — badgers. The animals live throughout the state, and while Priebus tried to get important info across, Trump interrupted, wondering whether badgers “are “mean to people,” how they “work,” and how aggressive they can get,” as Business Insider’s summary puts it.
One might hope that a presidential administration could focus somewhere other than self-centered, naive curiosity. With Trump, those hopes are easily shattered.
The book itself reads, in part:
‘After Trump was reminded that the short-legged omnivore was practically synonymous with the Badger State, he’d make a point of bringing it up at seemingly random occasions to his beleaguered chief of staff. ‘Are they mean to people?’ Trump at least twice asked Priebus in the opening months of his presidency. ‘Or are they friendly creatures?’ The president would also ask if Priebus had any photos of badgers he could show him, and if Priebus could carefully explain to him how badgers ‘work’ exactly.’
Trump apparently “also wanted to know if the badger had a ‘personality’ or if it was boring.” Perhaps that particular question is just the president projecting his own insecurities onto badgers. (What a thing to say! We live in bizarro world!)
Apparently, in response, Priebus “struggled for sufficiently placating answers, all the while trying to gently veer the conversation back to whether we were going to do a troop surge in Afghanistan or strip millions of Americans of healthcare coverage,” as the authors put it. All that badger work, and all Priebus got in return was an unceremonious firing via tweet and an abrupt removal from the president’s motorcade.
According to Sinking in the Swamp, some of Trump’s other pet projects included asking advisers about space garbage. Those increasingly ridicululous questions apparently included:
- “Where does it go?”
- “Where does it crash to earth?”
- “What exactly is up there, circling the globe?”
- “Who, or what, is creating all this space garbage?”
- “Is this a national security threat?”
Trump, of course, turned his apparent obsession with space into the creation of a new branch of the military, called the Space Force. It’s unclear what exactly the Space Force will actually do. For now, they just have camouflage uniforms (for space??) and logos that look like they were inspired by Star Trek. Some current Air Force stations also got slated for name changes to include the “Space Force” phrase.
Perhaps if Trump was anyone else imaginable than all of these details might have less grave implications. But they don’t. Trump, as president, spends his time spouting off in service of his ego at whoever and whatever happen to be in his way, whether that’s Wisconsin badgers, space garbage, or James Comey.