Loyalty and leadership

Armstrong Williams | 8/16/2018, 10:48 a.m.
My respect and appreciation for the many milestones our president has accomplished during his two years in offices remains unwavering.
Armstrong Williams

My respect and appreciation for the many milestones our president has accomplished during his two years in offices remains unwavering. But because I am his friend, I feel I must address the rampant disloyalty among staff that seems to constantly plague him. The most recent violation of trust includes revelations by longtime Trump associate and former White House Assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman that she made recordings of confidential communications with the president and on the White House premises.

Let me be clear. No matter what internecine squabbles are taking place among White House staffers, the level of respect and critical nature of the job requires them to maintain the utmost discretion. Secretly taping confidential discussions in that context is troubling in its duplicity. But it is perhaps more troubling in that, placed in the wrong hands, such information could threaten our nation’s security. Who even needs the “Russians” hacking into our election apparatus when it seems members of our own president’s inner circle are only too willing to betray his trust?

And this instance is not an isolated incident. Trump adviser and campaign strategist Steve Bannon got fired from his White House role amid reports he was leaking information to journalists. The reports were found to be true when a salacious book detailing White House dramas entitled “Fire and Fury” came out a few months after Bannon’s departure. The book’s author, Michael Wolf, cited Bannon as a key source of both information and access to administration officials.

More recently, Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime confidant and personal attorney, revealed he secretly recorded sensitive, privileged communications between himself and the president. Cohen has reportedly shopped those recordings to investigators looking into alleged misdeeds by the president, seeking a deal to spare himself prosecution for his own alleged crimes.

Now we have the latest saga. Omarosa, the mononymous vixen of reality TV fame, has cashed in her White House experience to publish a so-called memoir accusing the president of being racist and senile, among a host of other salacious allegations. To back her claims, Omarosa has released a number of surreptitiously recorded conversations between Trump and other White House staffers, including Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly.

Unlike Bannon, who only knew Trump as a candidate, Cohen and Omarosa have long-standing relationships with the president. That makes their willingness to betray the president’s trust all the more damning. By recording sensitive communications with the president, Cohen and Omarosa have signaled that they did not consider Trump to be a loyal boss. Perhaps they sensed—and Omarosa has explicitly stated—that they would need documentary proof of their conversations because the president was likely to betray them if he felt he needed to do so to save himself.

This notion points to a systemic issue that has persisted throughout Trump’s business career and subsequent ascendancy to the office of the president. Namely, the president expects loyalty but does not always extend it to those from whom he demands it. That is particularly troubling because business negotiations often rely on cohesion among individuals on the same side of the table. In fact, strict confidentiality is often a legal requirement in those circumstances.