David Brooks: Trump Thinks Government Is A "Family Mafia Business" And He's The Don

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However, Brooks said it is "too simplistic" to say Trump is a child and running a completely dysfunctional White House.

"It’s not completely dysfunctional. They are getting stuff done. And so I think that he has severe mental flaws. But the picture that’s coming out that he’s completely off his rocker, I think that’s overly simplistic and underestimates this," Brooks said.

Brooks also dissed Michael Wolff's new book and his journalistic ethics.





"One is Michael Wolff himself. In my view, I don’t know what to believe in the book because I don’t think he practices the kind of journalism that we practice. He doesn’t practice the kind that could allow you to work in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, PBS," Brooks said.

On Bannon, Brooks said the Breitbart chief could continue to lead his movement.

"If Bannon can continue to lead that movement, I don’t know if he will, he, in a weird way, could have longer staying power than Donald Trump," he said.

BROOKS: Well, we knew that he really wanted to squash this investigation, but I think what we’re learning is a lot of the details, a lot of the efforts that he made, the letter he wanted to write, his attitude toward government.

To me, the most astonishing quote of the whole deal is he saying, “Where is my Roy Cohn?” And Roy Cohn was Joe McCarthy’s henchman, more or less. And so he’s basically — and a mentor to Donald Trump, it should be said, later in life.

And so he thinks government is sort of a family mafia business, and he can shut it down, and loyalty to the Don is the primary value here.

To me, that was just a mind-boggling quote, because most people consider Roy Cohn and Roy Cohn’s role with Joe McCarthy as a shameful moment in American history, not something you want to emulate...

BROOKS: The relationship between presidents and attorney generals have generally been fraught, because they have this weird role of being appointed, but semi-independent representing their agency. And so it’s a history of fraughtness.

Trump doesn’t seem to understand that. He doesn’t understand the history. To me, it’s a mistake, though, to think, because he’s covering up, there was an underlining crime vis-a-vis Russia. That’s imposing a linearity on Donald Trump’s mind that doesn’t always exist.

And he could just not be — he just could be upset that they’re sort of diminishing his victory. And if anything we have learned over the past couple of weeks, there may be more to do with money laundering, some of the charges about Deutsche Bank that have been floating around as well, than maybe the Russia story.

And in the past, he certainly said, don’t look at my tax returns, which is a signal that the thing he’s really worried about, if there is anything, is less Russia and more some of the financial shenanigans...

I find it a little more supple. There are two issues here. One is Michael Wolff himself. In my view, I don’t know what to believe in the book because I don’t think he practices the kind of journalism that we practice. He doesn’t practice the kind that could allow you to work in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, PBS.

Many of the things he reports are true, and many of the things he reports are fictionalized. And a lot of things all throughout his career — this is not a new thing with him. Some of the things in the book are factually completely inaccurate. Some of the things ring false to me. Maybe somebody told him, so he put it in the book without checking it out.

When I started my career in journalism at the City News Bureau of Chicago, we had a phrase- If your mom tells you she loves you, check it out.

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