WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Donald Trump is in over his head, lost on foreign policy and, worse, had no intentions of winning the Republican nomination for president when he entered the campaign, the former communications director of a pro-Trump political action committee (PAC) has claimed in a lengthy, scathing rebuke of the candidate.
Stephanie Cegielski wrote in an open letter to Trump supporters that she was once sold on the idea of helping America recover from its political and economic malaise with the real estate tycoon, but when she accepted the job as head of communications for the Make American Great Again PAC she was informed that Trump was entering the race as a "protest candidate."
The powers at Trump Tower, where Cegielski claimed she accepted her post, told her that "The Donald" needed to finish a respectable second in the delegate count, she wrote in the letter.
"The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%," Cegielski wrote.
Now that Trump has steamrolled most of the experienced candidates in the race, Cegielski is remorseful about her role in helping make Trump great in the eyes of voters. Her criticism of Trump is pointed: he is like an untalented, awkward contestant who overstays his welcome on American Idol.
Her criticism of her own gullibility and responsibility for the mess is equally pointed.
"I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster – and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal," Cegielski wrote. "My support for Trump began probably like yours did. Similar to so many other Americans, I was tired of the rhetoric in Washington. Negativity and stubbornness were at an all-time high, and the presidential prospects didn't look promising."
"In 2015, I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background, full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to greatness," she wrote.
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Cegielski didn't go into the fray not knowing what to expect in the political world. She is an experienced political player with past roles in state government in Colorado and public relations. She was also vice president of the Public Relations Society of America for more than three years before taking on the role with the pro-Trump PAC. Trump, the television personality, was every communications director's dream, she wrote.
Now, Trump's campaign rejects Cegielski's criticism as well as the notion she has had any connection with the candidate. Hope Hicks, Trump's 20-something spokeswoman, said she is lying:
"This person was never employed by the Trump campaign. Evidently she worked for a Super PAC which Mr. Trump disavowed and requested the closure of via the FEC. She knows nothing about Mr. Trump or the campaign and her disingenuous and factually inaccurate statements in no way resemble any shred of truth. This is yet another desperate person looking for their fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is running for president because he is the only one who will Make America Great Again," Hicks said in a statement.
That Cegielski knows "nothing about Mr. Trump" is questionable. Trump attended a fundraiser organized by Cegielski's PAC in August 2015, and his daughter Ivanka's in-laws gave $100,000 to the Super PAC just after its startup. Both suggest at least an acquaintance between the cast of the political action committee and Trump's close allies. A Washington Post article in October 2015 also exposed the connections between Trump's business allies, his political operatives and the Super PAC run by a Colorado friend of Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.
Trump threatened to sue the paper for the story, but didn't. Instead, the Super PAC shut down and laid off its employees rather than to continue explaining how the campaign was so closely allied with the candidate (an illegal association, according to FEC rules).
In the end of her time with the PAC, Cegielski claimed she grew weary of managing communications every time Trump made an off-color remark, questioned someone else's religion, smeared another candidate, or said something "politically incorrect."
She was also surprised by how many Americans flocked to Trump's 'anti-candidate' status. It was an unexpected protest against the liberal elite in Washington – against the ruling class.
"I don't think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don't even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all," Cegielski wrote.
"He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver's seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy."
Both Trump's absence of political skill and egocentrism were on display, Cegielski wrote, when the candidate tweeted about the Easter Sunday suicide bombing in Pakistan. That bombing, in which a branch of the Pakistani Taliban specifically targeted Christians, killed more than 70 and wounded several hundred people.
"I alone can solve," Trump wrote on the social media site Twitter.
"Ignoring the fact that at the time Trump tweeted this (time-stamped 4:37 p.m.) the latest news reports had already placed the number differently at 70 dead, 300 injured, take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous, cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve. Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of his actual credits)?" Cegielski asked.
"This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever," she wrote. "Superhero powers where 'I alone can solve' problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump."
Cegielski's letter, which comes in at near 2,000 words, makes as its central point that Trump is now the conductor of a runaway train. He began the campaign hoping to make his name great in the eyes of the American people and increase his deal making gravitas as a businessman. Now, she wrote, that quest has "nightmarishly morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks."
"I'll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now," Cegielski claimed.