When Trump hires White House officials, he often places people in power who have spent their lives undermining the very efforts they are appointed to lead. Scott Pruitt, who led the Environmental Protection Agency until he resigned amid ethics controversies in July, had close ties to the energy industry and had sued the EPA more than a dozen times. Betsy DeVos, a longtime proponent of defunding public schools, is the current secretary of education. So Trump’s decision to replace Jeff Sessions with acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker fits neatly into his playbook. Whitaker, the man now in charge of the Mueller investigation, has appeared on CNN over a dozen times to harshly criticize the same investigation. “That is so unfair to Robert Mueller,” Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show Thursday night. “The guy was trash-talking him, and now that guy is his boss.”
Noah then broke down how intentional this strategy was, not on Trump’s part but on Whitaker’s. It turns out that his plan all along was to attract Trump’s attention using the most direct route to Trump’s brain: CNN. Attorney John Q. Barrett recently tweeted the following anecdote, which apparently occurred off air in the CNN green room when both Barrett and Whitaker were guests on the news network:
“So basically Whitaker was on CNN laying thirst traps for Trump,” said Noah, “and it worked because Trump slid in the DMs like ‘I’m DTF … down to fire Sessions.’ ” But rather than achieving that Iowa judicial appointment he wanted, Whitaker was propelled all the way to acting attorney general of the United States. “That’s like applying to be a cashier at Ross Dress for Less and then they’re like, ‘Forget cashier. You’re Ross!’ ” said Noah.
Jeff Sessions’ departure is Trump’s 15th high-profile firing, and as Daily Show correspondent Dulcé Sloan pointed out, almost all 15 departed the White House in the same manner they served the president: obedient and smiling. Sloan had some advice for the next Trump firee: “You’re already being escorted out by the Secret Service. You might as well earn it, OK? Tear down the curtains, carve a dink into Trump’s desk. Don’t just make the news, make history!”