Donald Trump reportedly yelled at former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster for taking notes during a meeting — a practice he picked up to counter Trump’s habit of telling lies and inventing stories about what took place during meetings.
The incident was recounted in a new article from The New York Times, which noted that Trump snapped during an April 2018 meeting and said to McMaster, “Why are you always writing in that book?” The report came from Cliff Sims, a former White House communications aide who has filed a lawsuit against the president. Sims noted that note-taking became habit for many in the White House so they could keep track of what Trump said or didn’t say during meetings.
“I do think there’s also a pervasive sense in this White House that at some point you’re going to have to set the record straight or give your perspective on events that took place, or actions you took — or didn’t take — as the case may be,” Sims said.
This would not be the first time that someone close to Trump has taken extra precautions to account for his reported habit of making up lies. As the Hill noted, Omarosa Manigault Newman had also said that she made sure to get documentation as much as possible, which she said was needed “to protect yourself” in the Trump White House. Newman’s accounts of what happened behind closed doors would go on to fuel a best-selling tell-all book, and during her time promoting the book, Omarosa also released some secret recordings from White House discussions.
Others noted Trump’s tendency to make up stories. When one of Trump’s lawyers had to give a deposition under oath in 1993, he revealed that Trump’s lawyers had to institute a policy of always meeting with him in pairs because “Donald says certain things and then has a lack of memory.”
Patrick McGahn, who worked as a lawyer for casinos in Atlantic City, agreed that it was difficult to expect a straight story from Donald Trump, Buzzfeed News reported. McGahn said that Trump was “an expert at interpreting things. Let’s put it that way.”
McGahn wasn’t the only one whose note-taking irked Trump. In one point at a meeting he turned to McMaster and asked: “Why are you always writing in that book?” @peterbakernyt and me https://t.co/FNAfqe41QW— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) April 21, 2019
Donald Trump is wary of others taking notes during meetings, however. The redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller noted that Trump showed suspicion when former White House counsel Don McGahn took notes, reportedly telling him, “Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.”