Former Trump aides said his administration acted like the Gestapo, purging anyone seen as disloyal: book

Trump
Former President Donald Trump.
  • The Presidential Personnel Office behaved like the Gestapo under Trump, former aides said, per a new book.
  • The office is typically charged with recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees.
  • But under Trump, it operated like an "internal police force" that purged anyone seen as disloyal, the book said.

The Trump administration was obsessed with purging anyone seen as disloyal, according to Jonathan Karl's forthcoming book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show."

Former aides privately compared the Presidential Personnel Office under President Donald Trump to the Gestapo in Nazi Germany or the East German Stasi, Karl wrote, per an excerpt published in The Atlantic on Tuesday.

The Presidential Personnel Office is typically charged with recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees in the executive branch. But under Trump, the office transformed into an "internal police force" that was perpetually looking out for "traitors within," Karl wrote.

Trump in January 2020 tapped Johnny McEntee to run the personnel office. McEntee, who was 29 at the time, previously worked as Trump's "bag man" and had been fired from the administration in 2018 amid a probe into alleged financial crimes. One of Trump's top Cabinet secretaries described McEntee to Karl as a "fucking idiot."

McEntee helped make the chaotic final weeks of Trump's presidency possible - and laid the groundwork for the fatal January 6 insurrection - by fervently backing his failed effort to overturn the election and removing or silencing those who stood in opposition, according to Karl's book.

In mid-November 2020, reports emerged that McEntee was spearheading a purge of any officials viewed as not sufficiently loyal to Trump. At the time, top advisors to the Trump administration, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, were getting fired as the president refused to accept that he'd been fairly defeated in the 2020 election.

"More than anyone else in the White House, McEntee was Trump's man through and through-a man who rose to power at precisely the moment when American democracy was falling apart," Karl wrote, citing a former senior official who said McEntee effectively became "deputy president."

McEntee did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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