How, exactly, did the Trump administration end up delaying $1,200 relief checks in order to get Donald Trump’s name on them? Secretively, The Washington Post reports. It seems that even within the Trump administration, this isn’t a decision people were bragging about.
Trump told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin he wanted his name on the checks in late March, and, being a massive suck-up, Mnuchin got to work. But quietly. According to The Post, he left “top White House officials in the dark until the plan became public” and “Some senior officials at the IRS did not find out about the plan until Tuesday morning.”
The Internal Revenue Service will be issuing the checks, but wasn’t allowed a role in the decision, and Commissioner Charles Rettig didn’t tell his top officials about it—even when the decision was finalized late on Monday, only five senior IRS officials were told.
Which is a particularly weird level of secrecy when you consider that as of Wednesday, IRS technology staff were working frantically to change the computer code on the template for the checks to add Trump’s name to the memo section of the checks without delaying the checks too much. The Trump administration is insisting that this won’t delay the checks at all, but 1) yeah, right, nice story, and 2) let’s say they were seriously trying not to delay the checks—the effort is being put on the backs of people working remotely under difficult conditions and a ridiculously tight timeline, knowing that millions of people desperately need these checks last week.
“I don’t know too much about it,” Trump claimed on Wednesday, an accurate statement when it comes to the mechanics of making his ego-driven whim become reality, but a ridiculous lie when it comes to the decision to do it to begin with.
Also, he said, “I don’t imagine it’s a big deal.” It’s never been done before because no president ever before was such a narcissist that they demanded it, but hey, no big deal. “I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check and my name is on it,” he continued, underlining the “no big deal” lie. Although does he really think $1,200 is a big, fat, beautiful check for people struggling to pay rent and utilities and buy food and medicine with no jobs and with unemployment insurance applications being processed too slowly?
The secrecy with which this was done doesn’t show that it was intended as a wonderful surprise for the American people. It shows that even people as shameless as surround Trump knew that this was something to be ashamed of, or at least to kick off under cover of secrecy.