‘A Warning’: 10 Takeaways From Anonymous Senior Trump Official’s Book About ‘Unfit’ President

The book offers a “warning” to American citizens against re-electing Trump in 2020 and a chronicling of a White House marked by chaos and disarray

'A Warning book'
J. Clara Chan / The Wrap

“A Warning,” the highly anticipated book by the anonymous senior Trump administration official who wrote the “I Am Part of the Resistance” op-ed for the New York Times last year, was published on Tuesday.

The book, as its title states, is in turns a warning to American citizens against re-electing Trump in the 2020 election, a dire depiction of a president unfit for office and the chronicle of a White House marked by chaos and disarray. (A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The author has still remained unidentified despite demands from the Justice Department for the book’s publisher to release his or her identity. The author, described on the cover as a “senior Trump administration official,” said the motivation for writing the book was not financial, adding that any royalties will be donated to nonprofit organizations with a focus on “government accountability,” like the White House Correspondents’ Association.

At times, Anonymous writes specifically to the GOP as a fellow Republican and appeals to historical documents like the Federalist Papers and Cicero’s “De Officiis” to illuminate how Trump is “unfit for the job” as president. Other times, the official warns Democrats that they should “show wisdom and restraint in selecting your party’s nominee.”

As for readers who seek to identify the author? “If asked, I will strenuously deny I am the author of this book, including when the president demands we each disavow it,” Anonymous wrote. “Anyone whose sole purpose in reading this book is to uncover names, including my own, will find they are wasting their time.”

Here are 10 highlights from “A Warning.”

1. During the president’s briefings, aides were told to reduce information down to PowerPoints with a single bullet point

Early in Trump’s presidency, the author said that Oval Office briefers were first told not to bring “lengthy documents” or “summaries” and, if they had to bring paper to their meeting with Trump, to use PowerPoint slides. But that soon proved to be too much information for the president, who “couldn’t digest too many slides.” Briefers were then told to keep things to a maximum of three bullet points, even for complicated issues, like “military readiness or the federal budget.” And when the president still struggled to comprehend the three bullet points, briefers were advised to keep their meetings with Trump down to just a single bullet point.

“Come in with one main point and repeat it — over and over again, even if the president inevitably goes off on tangents — until he gets it. Just keep steering the subject back to it. ONE point,” the author wrote of the advice West Wing aides gave briefers. “Because you cannot focus the commander in chief’s attention on more than one goddamned thing over the course of a meeting, okay?”

For those who ignored this advice and came in prepared to have “robust policy discussions on momentous national topics,” the official wrote, “they invariably paid the price.”

“‘What the f— is this?’ the president would shout, looking at a document one of them handed him. ‘These are just words. A bunch of words. It doesn’t mean anything.’ Sometimes he would throw the papers back on the table. He definitely wouldn’t read them,” the official recalled.

2. Trump still does not understand how the executive branch works

“He tells the secretary of defense to do things that are the responsibility of the secretary of state. He tells the attorney general to do things that are the job of the director of National Intelligence. Sometimes he tells his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to do all their jobs at once, including reimagining care for America’s veterans, negotiating Middle East peace, spearheading criminal justice reform, and undertaking delicate conversations with foreign allies,” the official wrote.

3. Trump once said he’d be the hero of a school shooting, even if he didn’t have a weapon

In February 2018 — just after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people — the president suggested that school gun violence could be ended by arming teachers weapons so that they could fight back against mass shooters.

“It was time for all of us to reenact the daily face-palm ritual,” the anonymous official wrote. “Fortunately, the idea was dropped because no one else took it seriously, much like the president’s claim that he would be the citizen-hero if he was on the scene of a school massacre. ‘I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon,’ he claimed. We couldn’t contain our laughter.”

4. Trump wanted to label migrants as “enemy combatants” so that the administration “had an excuse to keep them out of the country”

“Almost anything, any issue, and problem can be tied back to immigration in [Trump’s] mind. At one point, Trump warmed to a new idea for solving what he viewed as the biggest crisis in American history: to label migrants as ‘enemy combatants.’ Keep in mind this is the same designation given to hardcore terrorist suspects,” the official wrote.

“If we said these illegals were a national security threat, Trump reasoned, then the administration had an excuse to keep all of them out of the country,” the author continued. “It was unclear if someone had planted this in his head or whether he had come up with it on his own, but either way, advisors were mortified.”

5. Trump regularly brings ideas from Fox Business host Lou Dobbs to the Oval Office

“One of his favorite sources for news analysis is Lou Dobbs, a once-respected Fox host whose late-night show is now riddled with conspiracy theories and wild speculations about current events,” Anonymous wrote. “We know this because he regularly brings Lou’s ideas into the Oval Office the next morning, demanding they be implemented the way Lou said they should be. I can’t think of another elected official who is so easily lured in by obvious carnival barkers.”

6. Trump aides would deliberately disclose false information in meetings to see what was leaked to the press

The author said that paranoia and skepticism in the White House is rampant enough that aides will try to figure out who potential leakers and “traitors” are during sensitive meetings.

“Sometimes Trump aides deliberately disclose false information in meetings to see if it ends up in the press so they can root out suspected traitors. (The people who do this are the ones you’d expect, and I’ve seen them hypocritically leak to the press to promote themselves, despite running their own anti-leak operations),” the official wrote. “What this means is that Trump is limiting information he hears from within his own government to more inexperienced political types who tend to agree with him in the first place and who he perceives are personally loyal.”

7. The president wanted to reduce the number of federal judges

The anonymous administration official recalled a time when Trump made a “wacky” request to reduce the number of federal judges because too many of his policies were being hindered by them. “I’ve only won two cases in the courts as president. And you know what one of them was? A case against a stripper,” the president said, according to the book.

“Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the f—ing judges,” Trump said at one point, according to the official, further asking his legal team to draft a bill for Congress to reduce the number of federal judges.

8. An unnamed foreign leader once implored aides to get Trump to stop tweeting

The author said an unnamed foreign leader once implored Trump’s aides to “get him off Twitter.”

“His country had been in the crosshairs of a recent Trump missive, and he argued that he couldn’t be seen by his people working with the United States if the president was going to blast them all the time,” the official wrote. “We agreed, but assured him it was a lost cause. Trump’s social media addiction was unmanageable.”

9. A former top FBI official said Trump rejected U.S. intelligence information because Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him something different

According to the book, Trump ignored information from a top FBI official regarding a “rogue country’s missile capability” because of contradictory information that came from Putin. “He said the Russian president had given him different information, so it didn’t matter what U.S. spy agencies said,” the author wrote. “‘I don’t care. I believe Putin,’ the [FBI] official quoted him as saying.”

10. Anonymous on the “Deep State”

In the author’s Times op-ed, the anonymous official wrote about a “resistance” within the Trump administration consisting of high-level appointees seeking to keep Trump in check. “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state,” the official wrote in the op-ed.

But more than a year later, the anonymous official said there are limits to what can be achieved by “quiet resistance.” “Unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style. He is who he is. Americans should not take comfort in knowing whether there are so-called adults in the room. We are not bulwarks against the president and shouldn’t be counted upon to keep him in check,” the official wrote. “That is not our job. That is the job of the voters and their elected representatives.”

“I believe firmly that whatever benefits we may have gained from individual Trump policies are vastly outweighed by the incalculable damage he has done to the fabric of our republic,” the author wrote toward the end of the book. “I cannot overstate the consequences of reelecting Donald Trump.”