Donald Trump's attention span is so notoriously short that the organizers for a 2017 NATO summit redesigned the schedule to keep the new president from getting distracted. His aides reportedly rely on delays and misdirection in the hope that he forgets some of the more outrageous things he asked them to do. But it turns out that Trump's squirrel-like focus similarly derailed his staff.
In the upcoming book Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington, Daily Beast reporters Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay document the merry-go-round of underlings Trump has brought into his administration. On Twitter, Suebsaeng lamented that one of his favorite parts wasn't likely to get excerpted in reviews: a portion of the book that recounts Trump obsessively pelting his former chief of staff Reince Preibus with questions about badgers.
Suebsaeng was wrong. Business Insider published the excerpt this week, and it's as absurd as one would expect:
After Trump was reminded that the short-legged omnivore was practically synonymous with the Badger State, he'd make a point of bringing it up at seemingly random occasions to his beleaguered chief of staff. "Are they mean to people?" Trump at least twice asked Priebus in the opening months of his presidency. "Or are they friendly creatures?" The president would also ask if Priebus had any photos of badgers he could show him, and if Priebus could carefully explain to him how badgers "work" exactly.
F*ckin' badgers, how do they work?
He wanted Reince—resident White House badger historian, apparently—to explain to him Wisconsin's obsession with the animal, how the little critters function and behave, what kind of food they like, and how aggressive or deadly they could be when presented with perceived existential threats. Trump also wanted to know if the badger had a "personality" or if it was boring. What kind of damage could a badger to do a person with its flashy, sharp claws? An obviously enthralled president would stare at Priebus as the aide struggled for sufficiently placating answers, all the while trying to gently veer the conversation back to whether we were going to do a troop surge in Afghanistan or strip millions of Americans of healthcare coverage.
Trump often betrays a five-year-old's understanding of the natural world, from his absurd claims about wind power, to his idea about nuking hurricanes, to that time he looked directly at a solar eclipse. Unfortunately his ability to act like a infantilized grandparent one minute makes it all the more terrifying when he acts like a tyrannical autocrat the next.
How much would you pay to protect your family from forces seemingly beyond your control? Is any price too high? Inside the strange, predatory, and lucrative world of psychics who have successfully scammed customers out of their life savings, and the private investigator who's trying to put a stop to it.
Originally Appeared on GQ