The Slatest

The Trump Administration in One Photo

The three weeks that have passed since Trump’s inauguration have been a chaotic blur. An administration that many knew would be characterized by incompetence and scandal has outdone expectations with a kaleidoscope of controversies large and small. But how has the Donald himself been taking it?

A few reports, including a New York Times article from last Sunday that graced us with the image of Trump aimlessly wandering the halls of the White House in a robe, have believably suggested that Trump has been frustrated and bewildered by the scale of his new job, his administration’s early failures, and the rolling laugh track that has accompanied and will continue to accompany this presidency. But surely, Trump must still enjoy being the center of attention.

How else to explain his decision, as CNN reported on Sunday, to hold high-level strategic talks on North Korea’s weekend missile launch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, not in a secured space, but in the dining terrace of his Mar-a-Lago club within full view of gawking guests?

The launch, which wasn’t expected, presented Trump with one of the first breaking national security incidents of his presidency. It also noisily disrupted what was meant to be an easygoing weekend of high-level male bonding with the more sobering aspects of global diplomacy.

Sitting alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he’d spent most of the day golfing, Trump took the call on a mobile phone at his table, which was set squarely in the middle of the private club’s dining area.

As Mar-a-Lago’s wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe’s evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN.

One of those diners was Erika Bain, an employee at a furniture design firm and a former Juicy Couture sales associate who had the good fortune to take a photograph that so perfectly captures this moment in American politics and American life that it ought to be Pulitzer-eligible:

This photo proves that this setup posed a security risk—someone close enough to take it could have, with presumably minimal effort, gotten close enough to capture audio of use to the North Koreans. But we should be at least a little glad Erika was there.

Update Feb. 13, 1:21 PM: Multiple outlets have picked up on additional photos taken of President Trump’s pow-wow with the Japanese Prime Minister by one Richard DeAgazio. DeAgazio posted roughly 20 photos from the scene to Facebook, including a picture of himself posing with a man reportedly responsible for carrying the President’s nuclear codes and another photo that seems to show the “nuclear football” itself being carried. The pictures have been removed from Facebook.