A new ProPublica report on Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale paints the former San Antonio web designer as a hustler who flattered himself into the president's good graces and regularly fictionalizes details of his own ascent.
Parscale — a sought-after speaker in conservative circles — embellishes details of his life to paint it as a rags-to-riches story, all while overselling his role in Trump's 2016 campaign, according to the lengthy profile. Part of Parscale's staying power, the piece argues, is his skill at toadying up to members of Trump's family, particularly son-in-law Jared Kushner.
"[L]ike Trump, Parscale is largely unencumbered by the concerns for consistency and accuracy that are the hobgoblins of smaller minds," the story's co-authors write.
"He's fundamentally a salesman, and he's a salesman in the context of his own life story," Elkind said of Parscale. "And in being that way, in pitching himself, he says things that simply aren't true."
Some of the details outlined in ProPublica's story:
Before Parscale turned his Twitter account into a hyperbolic Gatling gun for the Trump presidency, one of his loudest online grievances was the skimpy size of Luby's salads.
Shortly after Trump announced his candidacy, Parscale approached two top San Antonio Republicans for advice on running for city council. They advised against it to avoid a runoff with another conservative.
Although Parscale claims in speeches that he started his web-design company with the only $500 he had to his name, he actually owned three houses at the time and had recently left a $95,000-a-year job.
After Trump read reports that his campaign had paid Parscale's firm $94 million for its work, the real estate mogul cornered him and screamed "Where the fuck is my money?" "According to two witnesses, the confrontation ended when Kellyanne Conway sneezed on Trump, distracting him from his fury."
After Trump's victory, Parscale launched an ad campaign offering to bring the same digital magic to business clients. One of his customers, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, was underwhelmed, saying Parscale's work "helped, but wasn't anything dramatic."
The ProPublica piece also details the tightrope Parscale now walks as some Republican operatives cheerlead a fall.
Parscale has come under scrutiny over new reports questioning how much he's personally profiting from his campaign work. Trump's most prominent political action committee recently shelled nearly $910,000 to a Parscale-owned digital data firm, filings show.
Of particular concern inside the party is Parscale's spearheading of a Trump campaign takeover of the Republican National Committee, according to ProPublica.
"[T]he extent of Trump’s takeover is unprecedented, according to experts," the authors write. "They say it inflicted damage on Republican congressional candidates in the 2018 elections, and could do so again in 2020."