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Throughout his one-term presidency, Donald J. Trump always surrounded himself with sketchy characters, and they got sketchier as the four years wore on. But somehow we never heard about this guy: A new tell-all argues that one of the most powerful sycophants in Trump’s White House staff was Johnny McEntee, a 29-year-old former college quarterback, who rose the ranks after starting as the former president’s “body man” (i.e., the gig Tony Hale’s Gary had on Veep) and who was, as per another staffer, a “f*cking idiot.”
The book is Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, by ABC News Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, and in an excerpt published by The Atlantic, he goes into detail about this mysteriously obscure associate. He outlines how this twentysomething former athlete, who cut his teeth carrying Trump’s bags on trips, eventually found himself, in Trump’s final stretch in office, overseeing the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). He of course got the job despite having zero prior Beltway experience and despite having been previously fired from another position, under former Chief of Staff John Kelly, over having gambling income. (Later on, he was on the long list of people Trump might pardon in his final days, alongside Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.)
What’s more, once promoted to an astonishingly powerful position for a newbie, McEntee began filling the ranks with, as per Karl, “very young” and “comically inexperienced” Trump activists. Some were friends, others were “beautiful 21-year-old girls,” as well as “guys who would be absolutely no threat to Johnny in going after those girls.” One official called them “the Rockettes and the Dungeons & Dragons group,” partly because one of them was a former Rockette. But they weren’t anodyne. Karl compared them to “East German Stasi or even the Gestapo.”
But even as McEntee’s secret powers grew even stronger, not everyone was a fan. As per Karl:
The office was run by Johnny McEntee. Just 29 when he got the job, he’d come up as Trump’s body guy—the kid who carried the candidate’s bags. One of Trump’s most high-profile Cabinet secretaries described him to me as “a fucking idiot.” But in 2020, his power was undeniable. Trump knew he was the one person willing to do anything Trump wanted. As another senior official told me, “He became the deputy president.”
Oh, and of course, McEntee was a major player in the run-up to Jan. 6. Despite his complete lack of constitutional experience, McEntee drafted his own constitutional analysis, alongside “his own rogue legal advisers,” in an attempt to convince then-VP Mike Pence to overturn the election, even though he couldn’t. In a memo, which he sent to Pence over text (natch), McEntee asserted that Thomas Jefferson, when vice president, threw out votes so he could become president. Spoiler: He did not. (Meanwhile, Pence ignored McEntee and others, in part thanks to — that’s right — Dan Quayle.)
There’s more where that came from, and you can pore over it all over at The Atlantic and weep for what could have been had these meddling kids actually gotten away with it.
(Via The Atlantic)