Apr 2, 2019

Valerie Jarrett confronted Obama about "macho" White House

Mike Allen, author of AM

Valerie Jarrett in the Oval Office in Year 1. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, writes in "Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward" (out Tuesday from Viking Press) that she confronted him about a "general macho atmosphere" in his West Wing that "was causing women to feel uncomfortable":

What they're saying: "If you notice," Jarrett told Obama, "in meetings the women rarely talk. And when you aren't there to ask their opinion, they are becoming increasingly mute." Jarrett writes that in response, Obama invited "over a dozen of the senior women for dinner at the White House to discuss what was going on."

  • "[H]e gave us his undivided attention for two and a half hours."
  • "[H]aving the president himself assure [the women] of their value ... gave us the courage and confidence we needed to make our voices heard."

Between the lines: "Since the night Donald Trump became president," Jarrett writes, "I've been going through the five stages of grief, sometimes all five in the same day."

  • "In the beginning, denial and anger were high on the list; I still haven't embraced acceptance."
  • "To me, the thousands of what-ifs of that election all come down to one fact: nearly 43 percent of eligible voters did not vote."

Go deeper: Details on Jarrett's book tour

Go deeper

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.