Fear - Trump in the White House
Bob Woodward
Contributed by Larisa Brooke

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Chapter 33
Summary

The predicted frustration of the President is now evident. Porter notes that in some moments, Trump is almost incapable of running the country (Woodward 227). Trump takes his frustration out on his advisers as well as White House staff members, all because he cannot listen carefully or for long to the advisers. Due to this, Hope Hicks wants the president to settle down, avoid doing or saying anything rash or that he would later regret (Woodward 227). The author moves on to talk about Cohn and Lighthizer. The pair have been working together for months and they need to convince Trump to agree to authorize an intellectual property inquiry into China’s trade practices (Woodward 228). It is clear that China is guilty of several trade offenses and therefore, Cohn and Lighthizer are sure that other countries will support the US if they impose a sanction on China. However, Trump is not willing to jeopardize his relationship with Xi and he, therefore, refuses to specify China as the target of the investigation (Woodward 229).

The President is still resolute in his decision to try and leave NAFTA under the current terms and begin with renegotiations. However, Cohn thinks that Trump’s plan is the most high-risk strategy and if it fails to work, it will lead to bankruptcy (Woodward 230). On another occasion, Cohn talks to the President about China as a possibly provider of drugs to the US (Woodward 231). Cohn also covers the issue of automobiles by explaining to the President the changes with the aid of relevant data (Woodward 231). The President however seems unconvinced and Cohn is sure that Navarro is the problem. Therefore, Cohn goes to Kelly and presents his concerns. In response, Kelly calls for a meeting and makes Navarro a member of the National Economic Council (Woodward 233). This works effectively as it keeps Navarro, and his opinions away from the President.

Analysis

Trump always seems to deal with rampant and volatile behavior whenever he is under pressure. The President often attacks people or makes regrettable decisions, but fortunately, the people who surround him have noticed this and try to save him from making mistakes. Hope Hicks who is endeavoring to make the President settle down is one of the people protecting Trump. Hicks clearly knows the damage that Trump may cause out of frustration. Nonetheless, she seems convinced that calming Trump down may work effectively. Her strategy involves exposing Trump less to certain triggers such as the TV and news reports, something that Trump sees as a constant personal attack.

China seems to inflict more harm than good to the US economy. As the author puts it, China has committed intellectual property theft estimated to be worth $600 billion (Woodward 228). Despite this discovery, Trump is not willing to sanction an investigation on China in the efforts of protecting his friendship with Xi. Trump justifies his decision claiming that China is an ally willing to help contain North Korea. However, this ironic considering that the President wants to destroy the alliance between the US and South Korea. This is an indication that Trump fears being an enemy to China more than he fears North Korea. Again, the President wants to apply his real estate experience to the economy and Cohn fears a possible failure, considering Trump’s experience of going bankrupt several times.

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