The Trump Files: “Always Be Around Unsuccessful People,” Donald Recommends

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Donald Trump loves to insist that he hires the best people. So why has his barely-there campaign fired two campaign managers, tapped a new campaign chairman who’s been accused of domestic violence and voter fraud, signed up white supremacists as delegates, hired staffers who share racist memes, and otherwise seemingly avoided anything like the “best” people available? This quote from a speech Trump made in March may hold the answer.

Trump decided to give an audience at St. Norbert’s College in De Pere, Wisconsin, a lecture on success during a campaign appearance there on March 30. About halfway through, he turned to the topic of the kind of company that successful people should keep.

“You’ll find, when you become very successful, the people that you will like best will be the people that are less successful than you,” he said, “because when you go to a table, you can tell them all these wonderful stories and they’ll sit back and listen. Does that make sense to you? Okay? Always be around unsuccessful people, because everybody will respect you.”

Ironically, a popular businessman had once warned people about the dangers of only being able to hang around lesser lights. The businessman’s name? Donald Trump.

“Some of the most successful people, I’ve noticed, can associate only with people less successful than themselves,” he wrote in Surviving at the Top, his 1990 book. “When they’re around someone who gets more attention than they do and has accomplished more than they have, they display a major personality complex, acting nervous and uneasy—and I’m sure they say vicious things behind the more successful person’s back.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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