‘Get Scavino in here’: Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider

‘Get Scavino in here’: Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider



‘Get Scavino in here’: Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider

White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino plays a key role in shaping President Donald Trump’s illustrious tweets. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Shortly after President Donald Trump announced plans to yank U.S. troops out of Syria last December, a group of lawmakers came to the White House to talk him out of the idea, which critics called a threat to national security.

Trump responded by calling in the man who oversees his Twitter account.

Story Continued Below

“Get Dan Scavino in here,” Trump called out in the middle of the meeting earlier this year. In walked a man in his early forties with close-cropped brown hair.

“Tell them how popular my policy is,” Trump instructed Scavino, who, according to two people with knowledge of the exchange, proceeded to walk lawmakers through the positive reaction he had picked up on social media about Trump’s Syria decision.

The sudden pivot from geostrategy to retweets and likes surprised the lawmakers. It was a remarkable moment given that not long ago Scavino was managing Trump’s golf club. But for Scavino himself, it was just another day on the job.

With few allies left in the West Wing, Trump frequently leans on his unassuming social media guru for affirmation and advice about how his most sensitive policies will be received, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former White House officials, and others close to the president.

Scavino met Trump as a 16-year-old golf caddie and has spent much of his adult life by his side. Today he sits just feet from the Oval Office and is present at most meetings, tapping away on his laptop in the background. He has joined Trump on trips to Saudi Arabia, Argentina and other far-flung destinations.

And officials say he talks to the president more than just about anybody else aside from Trump’s own family members, ping-ponging in and out of the Oval sometimes more than a half-dozen times a day. Aides wanting a read on Trump’s mood often check in with Scavino, who can be counted on to know.

To admirers, Scavino is a social media pioneer who fine-tunes Trump’s critical bond with his supporters. To critics, he is a yes-man and enabler who has no business working in the White House. As he did in the meeting about Syria, Scavino routinely provides rationalizations or justifications for the president’s most controversial policy directives, from his attacks on NFL players to his hard line on immigration — moves that Scavino has told the president thrill the #MAGA warriors on Twitter.

One thing everyone agrees on is that Scavino is a survivor — somebody who has become one of Trump’s closest confidants inside a White House from which nearly all of Trump’s original staff have departed.

As Trump embarks on his reelection campaign, Scavino is the last of four completely trusted original insiders currently still at his side. Gone are his former bodyguard and sidekick Keith Schiller; communications director Hope Hicks; and body man John McEntee.

But most important is his role as caretaker of Trump’s explosive Twitter feed, which both rallies the president’s supporters and drives Washington’s daily news cycles.

In an interview with POLITICO, Trump acknowledged that Scavino plays a key role in shaping the tweets he can fire off by the dozens each day.

“Oftentimes, I’ll go through Dan,” Trump said. “You know, I’ll talk it over. And he can really be a very good sounding board. A lot of common sense. He’s got a good grasp.”

He also called Scavino indispensable as his social media chief during the 2016 campaign and touted him as a key asset for 2020.

“When I was running, I knew that Hillary had 28 people — and I had Dan. … They used to say that we ran an unsophisticated campaign. And after we won, they said we ran one of the most sophisticated campaigns ever,” Trump said.

Scavino holds what would be a second-tier job in any other administration. But in Trump’s world it comes with the top White House salary of $179,700, coveted assistant to the president status and, as of last month, an upgraded title: senior advisor for digital strategy.

The president has cycled through five communications directors since taking office, including the recently-departed former Fox News executive Bill Shine, and has finally concluded he doesn’t need one, according to associates. He has himself — and Scavino.

“He is essentially the comms department of the White House,” said Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist.

Scavino acts first and foremost as Trump’s validator — adopting what one official called a “let Trump be Trump” approach that now defines a White House from which a series of officials who sought to rein Trump in have been pushed out. One former White House official joked that he creates a “safe space” around the president.

But Trump’s critics worry the president isn’t well-served by Scavino’s positive reinforcement and that using social media metrics to influence weighty policy decisions is dangerous.

Trump “has this interest in data, but it’s Trumpian data, which means it’s a little bit of cotton candy and it’s not grounded in reality,” said Trump biographer Tim O’Brien. “Politicians have been using polls for decades to gauge policies, but Twitter followers have nothing at all to do with whether his Syria policy is popular.” (Trump eventually backtracked on his plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. The administration decided to leave 400 troops in the country.)

Some who have witnessed Scavino’s interactions with the president up close say he is constantly reassuring Trump and regaling him with data points about how beloved he is. One person said he witnessed Scavino dismissing the string of tell-all books about the White House that infuriated the president, including Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury.”

“It’s this overt gushing to the president,” a former White House official said, adding that he recalls thinking, “Is Dan serious? Does he really feel that way?”

Yet it’s Scavino’s validation of the president that gives him influence. During his frequent visits to the Oval Office, conversations with the president on Air Force One or pull-asides in the president’s private study, Trump asks Scavino’s feedback on a range of subjects, pressing him about how his tweets are playing, whether his policies are popular and what he thinks about potential administration hires, aides said.

Trump, in the interview with POLITICO, downplayed his influence on policy. “I don’t think Dan wants too much to get involved with policy,” he said.

It’s a remarkable rise for the New York native who met Trump as a teenage caddie and became general manager of Trump’s golf club in Westchester County, New York before volunteering for his 2016 campaign.

Exactly how Trump’s tweets get made is a closely held secret inside the White House. But White House officials and even the president himself acknowledge that Scavino’s fingerprints can be found all over Trump’s feed.

Asked directly if Scavino helps write his tweets, Trump said, “Generally, I’ll do my tweets myself,” but he allowed that his aide helps shape his missives “on occasion.”

Scavino — who regularly monitors Reddit, with a particular focus on the pro-Trump /r/The_Donald channel — has helped craft some of Trump’s most memorable social media moments.

It was Scavino who devised the “Game of Thrones”-themed motif that has repeatedly appeared in White House messaging in recent months, including a presidential tweet aimed at Iran last fall that featured an image of Trump with the words “Sanctions are Coming.”

He also worked with Trump to pre-plan one of the president’s first public responses to the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, according to two administration officials. The April 18 tweet, timed to post minutes after Attorney General Bill Barr wrapped up his press conference about the report, declared: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”

That tweet also borrowed its font from the hit HBO series — never mind that the network objected in a statement last November that it “would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes.”

White House officials have repeated the “game over” message for weeks, insisting that it’s time for Democrats and the media to move on.

“He has a knack for phrasing things in a way that can drive news cycles,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Corporations pay people millions of dollars to break through on social media like that.”

While Trump used to dictate many of his tweets to Scavino, who would post them on his behalf, the president has grown more accustomed to tweeting unilaterally from his own account. When he does dictate his tweets to Scavino, the president is particular about exactly how they should be written, specifying capitalization and punctuation, White House officials said. The result is a sometimes-confounding presidential style guide in which the first letter of words like “collusion” and “witch hunt” are almost always capitalized.

The White House has created a separate review process for tweets that don’t originate from Trump or Scavino. Staffers propose a tweet, circulate it for feedback and then send it to Scavino, who sometimes “Trumps it up” before getting the president’s approval, according to a former White House official. Scavino has spent so much time around the president that he is an expert mimic of Trump’s speech patterns and predilections.

“He does a better a job at channeling Trump than anyone,” another former White House official said. (Sometimes, tweets deemed too hot even for Trump’s feed are posted on Scavino’s personal account.)

The pressure of being Trump’s messenger can sometimes be intense. Last March, Trump dictated a tweet to Scavino saying that then-national security adviser HR McMaster was leaving the White House. But before sending it out, Scavino scrambled to make sure aides knew the tweet was imminent, according to a former White House official.

At the start of Trump’s presidency, White House officials took much greater pains to contain his rapid-fire tweeting. Scavino would present Trump with several draft tweets to choose from every morning that would allow Trump “a release valve,” according to a person close to the president. The president circled the tweets he liked, and Scavino would send out the ones that he picked.

That setup didn’t last long, this person said. Trump “wasn’t feeling the actual euphoria of typing the tweet himself and … then within 15 seconds seeing it blasted on one of the cable shows.”

Scavino maintains his strong relationship with Trump and many senior officials in the White House by maintaining a low profile and keeping to himself — staying notably above the backstabbing, mistrustful White House fray. One former White House official called him the “least jazzy person” in the Trump orbit. More often than not, Scavino can be found in his office, on his laptop with headphones in his ears, White House officials said.

Scavino is also admired for his aversion to talking to reporters. He declined interview requests for this story.

“He’s somebody who the president knows has no personal motivation. He’s not doing this for himself,” said Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Even so, Scavino has developed a following among tech-savvy Trump supporters online, especially in the pro-Trump corners of Reddit, where his tweets and videos often catch fire.

Scavino’s own Twitter account, which has more than 368,000 followers, has become a home for the many behind-the-scenes videos and photos that Scavino takes on his travels alongside Trump, which often give him a better vantage point than journalists.

His personal Twitter feed also displays a combative, populist sensibility virtually indistinguishable from Trump’s. When the president was feuding with MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in 2017, Scavino tweeted, “#DumbAsARockMika and lover #JealousJoe are lost, confused & saddened since @POTUS @realDonaldTrump stopped returning their calls! Unhinged.”

He has also unwittingly exposed his inexperience in politics and government, including in a 2017 tweet about a potential Trump visit to “Palestine.”

In his interview with POLITICO, Trump dismissed persistent rumors that Scavino might leave the White House.

“I would hope he’ll stay for another six years and maybe another four after that and then another four after that,” Trump said, adding that he only jokes about extending his term to drive the media crazy.

Trump often asks Scavino to tell visitors how many followers he has on social media — insisting that his aide tally followers across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, instead of just Twitter, where former President Barack Obama dwarfs Trump’s follower count of 60 million by more than 45 million.

“How many people do I have?” Trump asked Scavino during the Syria meeting earlier this year with lawmakers, referring to his follower count.

Aides say Trump regularly complains about losing followers in what he suspects is politically-motivated censorship of conservatives — but which Twitter attributes to a recent crackdown on spam accounts.

Trump confronted Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey about the matter in an Oval Office meeting last month. Seated beside Dorsey was Dan Scavino.





Source …

Share this page...
CBDPet CBD Hemp Oil Extract Dietary Supplement

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.