Sep 11, 2018

The Trump Rules of Life and Leadership

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Leadership books are filled with calls for brutal candor, hiring people more talented than yourself, and collaboration as a force multiplier.

Yes, but: The Trump lessons of leadership, like his approach to the presidency, are radically and ruthlessly different.

Here are the Trump Rules, distilled from conversations we have had with countless people close to the president, some of whom have studied him for years:

  1. Your brand should piss someone off. The worst thing you can be is milquetoast, bland. He wants some people to have a viscerally negative response to him and what he’s doing, because he bets that’s going to harden support on the other side.
  2. Crisis is a powerful weaponfire it indiscriminately. "Forget planning," a source said. "Wake up every morning, survey the battlefield, let your gut instinct lead you to a crisis to exploit, bet that no one else can thrive in the chaos the way you can. Ratchet up the pressure until everyone else's pipes burst."
  3. You can create your own truth. Just keep repeating it.
  4. Accuse the accuser. A source who's spent hundreds of hours working with Trump puts it this way: "He has a history of accusing people of whatever he’s being accused of. Collusion? Democrats colluded on the dossier! Blue wave? Red wave coming!"
  5. Fear trumps friendship. Trump wants his inferiors to fear him and hold him in awe. He likes watching them duke it out in front of him.
  6. Loyalty trumps talent. Case in point: Michael Cohen. No serious person would employ Michael Cohen as their personal attorney — a point Trump has belatedly acknowledged himself. But as Cohen used to say, he'd "take a bullet" for Donald Trump. Oops. 
  7. Never admit you areor didwrong.  Trump’s #MeToo advice, per Bob Woodward's "Fear": "You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead."

Go deeper

In photos: We've seen images like the protests in Minneapolis before

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP/MPI/Getty Images

The photos of protests around the country following the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police are hauntingly familiar. We’ve seen them many times before, going back decades.

Why it matters: "What is also unmistakable in the bitter protests in Minneapolis and around the country is the sense that the state is either complicit or incapable of effecting substantive change," Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University writes in the New York Times. The images that follow make all too clear how little has changed since the modern Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s.

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,968,693— Total deaths: 365,796 — Total recoveries — 2,520,587Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,749,846 — Total deaths: 102,900 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Economy: The future of mobility in the post-pandemic worldGeorge Floyd's killing and economic calamity are both part of America's unfinished business.
  4. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  5. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  6. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  7. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.

The aftermath of George Floyd's death: Everything you need to know

A mural outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, near where George Floyd was killed in an encouner with police. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in jail under $500,000 bail on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter after a video of him kneeling on George Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes and Floyd's death catapulted the country's major cities into a state of protest.

The big picture: Floyd's fatal run-in with police is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.