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McEnany: Trump likes to hire people with 'countervailing viewpoints'

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE prefers to hire individuals who have “countervailing viewpoints” when asked about his criticism of former aides and Cabinet officials.

“The president makes hiring decisions based on the fact that he likes to have countervailing viewpoints,” McEnany told reporters during a press briefing.

McEnany said she spoke to Trump specifically about his decision to hire John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE, his former national security adviser who penned a forthcoming book that offers a scathing picture of the White House. McEnany said Trump told her he likes “to counterbalance my own opinion with individuals who oftentimes have the very opposite opinion of my own.”

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“He likes the model of having a ‘team of rivals’ like what we saw in President Lincoln’s administration,” McEnany continued. “I’ve been a part of that. I often see rigorous debate and the president uses his gut and makes the best decision how to move forward.”

Trump has regularly lashed out at former White House aides and Cabinet members, particularly those who have publicly criticized him following their exits. This week he repeatedly lambasted Bolton after excerpts of his book were reported by news outlets, dismissing him as a “liar,” a “disgruntled boring fool” and “incompetent.”

McEnany was asked why Trump hires people he views as “dumb as a rock,” “overrated,” “way over their heads,” “wacko” and “incompetent” — phrases he has used to describe Bolton or other former officials including former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonLawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office New State Department cyber bureau stirs opposition Blinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' MORE and former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs The GOP senators likely to vote for Trump's conviction Mission near impossible: Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon MORE.

McEnany said Bolton had proven those labels to be “particularly true,” noting he praised the president during his time working in the White House before turning to criticize Trump in his memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.”

The Justice Department is currently suing to block the release of the book, arguing it contains classified information. The book, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, describes a deeply dysfunctional White House and portrays Trump as "stunningly uninformed."  

Speaking on CNN earlier Friday, former acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE said Trump “didn’t hire very well” when asked about criticism from Bolton and other former officials.

“He did not have experience in running government and didn’t know how to put together a team that could work well with him,” said Mulvaney, who also served as the director of Trump's Office of Management and Budget and has since been appointed as his special envoy for Northern Ireland.