The Trump campaign built a large policy shop in Washington that has now largely melted away because of neglect, mismanagement and promises of pay that were never honored. Many of the team’s former members say the campaign leadership never took the Washington office seriously and let it wither away after squeezing it dry.
Donald Trump often brags about having experts and senior former officials advising him. Wednesday night in a forum on national security, he said, “We have admirals, we have generals, we have colonels. We have a lot of people that I respect.” It’s true that Trump is getting high-level policy advice on a regular basis from senior experts such as Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. But Trump has never acknowledged the policy shop based in Washington that has been doing huge amounts of grunt work for months without recognition or compensation.
Since April, advisers never named in campaign press releases have been working in an Alexandria-based office, writing policy memos, organizing briefings, managing surrogates and placing op-eds. They put in long hours before and during the Republican National Convention to help the campaign look like a professional operation.
But in August, shortly after the convention, most of the policy shop’s most active staffers quit. Although they signed non-disclosure agreements, several of them told me on background that the Trump policy effort has been a mess from start to finish.
“It’s a complete disaster,” one disgruntled former adviser told me. “They use and abuse people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren’t delivered.”As a result Eli Stokols reports at Politico, Trump is cribbing.
When Donald Trump needed a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, he borrowed one from The Heritage Foundation. His proposals on reforming the nation’s tax code and improving services for veterans appear to have been lifted almost verbatim from those of primary rival Jeb Bush. And in 39 minutes of remarks Thursday, he lifted education proposals core to Mitt Romney’s 2012 platform and a plan that bears notable resemblance to a 2014 bill introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
The speech, given in the cafeteria of a low-performing, for-profit Cleveland charter school run by a politically active donor named Ron Packard, is the latest example of Trump’s haphazard, cut-and-paste approach to policy — and his campaign’s eleventh-hour blitz of speeches, delivered via teleprompter, attempting to mask the candidate’s reluctance to invest in a real policy shop.