There are certain traits that define a bully, but as I discuss in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, most prominent are manipulation, deception, denial, deceit and deflection. All of these were on full display this week as it was revealed by the Associated Press that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former unpaid campaign chairman, created a plan in 2005 to help an oil billionaire friend of Vladimir Putin influence American politics. Manafort’s ties to Russia Must have been known by the Trump campaign. According to Slate, Manafort was asked to resign when the AP revealed his secret lobbying campaign for Ukraine’s pro-Russia party.
So how has the Trump administration handled all of this? The White House quickly backpedaled, claiming that Trump had no idea of Manafort’s ties with Russia. Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s official response was, “Obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” However, according to Politco, Manafort and Trump continued to stay in touch through November and Manafort continues to live in Trump Tower, where he has resided since 2008.
Trump supporter and fellow bully Newt Gingrich told the press that he didn’t see how this issue “becomes Trump’s problem. All Trump has to say is, ‘None of us knew about it and when we did know about it, he was gone.’” Clearly this is another lie. A Fox News clip has surfaced of Gingrich talking to Sean Hannity last August where he acknowledges, “Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help this get this campaign to where it is right now.”
Another Trump operative trying to run interference for the Bully-in-Chief is House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes. He told the press late today that he had seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community that included communication from the Trump White House transition teamthat were part of a broader surveillance effort. He declared himself “alarmed” and said he had personally reported this to Trump—but nothing was reported to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff.
Trump seemed to be delighted by the news and said he was “somewhat vindicated” by the Nunes’ report—which basically says nothing. Schiff on the other hand had harsh words for Nunes. "The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he's going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both," Schiff said.
The layers of manipulation, deception, denial, deceit and deflection are mind boggling. They should make anyone ask—why should we believe anything that comes out of the White House?