Donald Trump has a history of posing as a fictitious spokesman for the Trump Organization who would variously call himself “John Miller,” John Barron,” and “John Baron,” while showering “his” boss with praise.
Since Trump has never explained why he has posed as his own publicist, his motives remain a matter of speculation. In a court hearing he did admit to using the name John Miller, so this suggests he may not have been driven by a need to later cover his tracks by disowning his own statements.
On the contrary, a more plausible explanation might be that Trump trusts no one to speak on his behalf and thus sometimes on occasions where he feels obliged to create the appearance of a some distance between himself and what is supposedly being said about him, he resolves his own fear of misrepresentation by playing the role of his own spokesman.
The problem Trump has consistently had in pulling off this stunt is that he’s a lousy actor. Trump playing the role of John Miller sounds indistinguishable from Trump. Trump is always Trump.
Last night the “Office of the Press Secretary” at the White House released a statement explaining why Trump had just fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. It refers to Trump in the third person: “Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties…” and yet the language and tone of the statement is from beginning to end, pure Trump — from his histrionic declaration that he has been “betrayed” to his signature put down, “weak” on this and “very weak” on that. In Trump’s impoverished lexicon his critics invariably get cast down as “weak” the purpose being, presumably, that they can then be seen in contrast to Mighty Trump — the undefeated heavy champion of the world.
Does it really matter whether the words come directly from Trump or from the office of his press secretary? One way or another this is the voice of the president.
Well actually, it really does matter that we know without doubt whether these are Trump’s words.
Because deciphering the political machinations going on inside the White House has increasingly become a question of trying to determine the extent to which the guiding hand behind what are ostensibly presidential actions belongs not to Trump but to Steve Bannon.
Knowing when Trump is or is not speaking may be critical when assessing how much power is now being wielded by the man who was dubbed as “the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America” long before he entered the White House and swiftly claimed a permanent seat on the National Security Council.