There's a sentence in Olivia Nuzzi's terrific profile of Hope Hicks in New York magazine that tells you absolutely everything you need to know about not only President Donald Trump but also the group of people who orbit him.
It's this one:
"No matter how dead any of the eccentrics or maniacs or divas appeared to be, how far away from the president their status as fired or resigned or never-hired-in-the-first-place should have logically rendered them, nobody was ever truly gone."
Nuzzi goes on to tell the story of HIcks' decision to resign as White House communications director, a move prompted by a series of leaks about Hicks' personal life that, in the article's telling, appear to trace back to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
That episode is indicative of the broader portrait of the Trump White House that has emerged over this first year-plus in office: A constant swirl of "who's up, who's down" in which staffers are forever worried about their job status or closeness to Trump even as a motley crew of former Trump aides and hangers-on forever angle to win the President's affections.
It has all the makings of the reality show -- "The Apprentice" -- Trump helped to create alongside Mark Burnett in the 2000s. A series of aspirants all contending for "Mr. Trump's" approval. Personal rivalries galore -- all stoked by Trump. And, of course, twists and turns, like bringing back a contestant who was kicked off the show weeks ago!
One needs look only so far as Omarosa Manigault Newman to understand Trump's obsession with recycling his favorite characters. Omarosa "starred" in the first season of "The Apprentice" and the first season of the "Celebrity Apprentice." She was also featured in "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice."
She was fired each time.
That notwithstanding -- or perhaps because of it -- she was brought into Trump's campaign as the director of African American outreach. She parlayed that into a job as the spokeswoman for the Office of Public Liaison within the White House. She officially resigned from the White House in December 2017.
Of the firing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said: "Omarosa was fired three times on 'The Apprentice,' and this was the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the President while here. She has no contact now."
Omarosa then turned up on "Celebrity Big Brother," where she insisted that she had tried to be a moderating force on Trump and declared she would never vote for him again. (She was kicked out of the "Big Brother" house in late February.)
What a run! -- facilitated at every key juncture by Trump's unwillingness to simply banish Omarosa once and for all.
Because that's not what he does. He feuds. He rages. He bullies. He fires (or, at last, has someone else fire at his behest.) But, he never really abandons anyone. Or at least not anyone who has once shown the sort of loyalty to him Trump wants and needs.
That's why Lewandowski is somehow still in the mix. It's why Trump defends former national security adviser Michael Flynn despite the fact that Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. It's why, in announcing that Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser, was leaving the White House, Trump floated the idea that Cohn might be back. It's why Anthony Scaramucci is still in the Trump orbit despite a historic flameout of 10 days as the White House communications director
No one is ever truly "dead" to Donald Trump. The only thing he loves more than conflict between and among those who work for him is a reconciliation among those people.
Remember, always, that Trump was reality TV before reality TV. He is in the business, even now, of keeping eyeballs on him. That means drama, conflict and resolution. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
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