But the fact that Navarro didn’t get official clearance for his statement was largely an irrelevant point. After all, he didn’t need it. According to three individuals familiar with the matter, in the past few months Trump has privately encouraged multiple senior officials and allies, including Navarro, to remind journalists and the American public of how Fauci has been “so wrong”—in the president’s phrasing—in some of his predictions about the coronavirus pandemic.

Navarro hadn’t “gone rogue,” as one White House official put it. He’d performed the precise task that many in Trump’s orbit have been given in recent days. He pleased the boss.

As Trump’s re-election campaign has struggled to tear down former Vice President Joe Biden with less than four months until Election Day, the president’s staff have devoted considerable resources to finding novel ways to make him feel better about the crumbling world around him…

Beyond trying to publicly humiliate Fauci, the president’s lieutenants have sought to lift his spirits in numerous other ways during this dark and deadly chapter for the country. One of them is to simply highlight for the president—as much as they possibly can—the images and footage of Trump-loving citizens the president has affectionately dubbed his “beautiful ‘boaters’” during the pandemic.