Donald Trump said there were 'unbelievable undercover operatives' in the Florida crowd Thursday. What?

President Donald Trump sometimes, well, just says stuff.

This is especially true when he speaks to large gatherings of supporters — as he did on Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida. These lines, in particular, stood out to me:
“We also have some of our really unbelievable undercover operatives, and if you don’t mind, I won’t introduce them all right, I don’t think we’re going to introduce them. I want to so badly. I want to have him stand up, bring him up here. I want to hug him and kiss him which I’m not allowed to do because of social distancing, but somehow they may lose some effectiveness if I introduced him so they’re in the crowd.”
Uh, what?
    My initial thinking when I heard the quote was that Trump was saying that there are “undercover” Secret Service agents in the crowd that he didn’t want to identify. Which, weird.
    But actually, a bit of investigation into what led into this line — and what Trump said after it — suggest a different, but equally bizarre, meaning.
    Just before Trump nodded to the “unbelievable undercover operatives” in the crowd, he said this, according to a transcript on
    “I really appreciate it, and we also have some others that are running for different offices in the Republican Party and we love the Republican Party. They have been incredible, they have been incredible.”
    And here’s what he said just after the “undercover operatives” line:
    “Thank you, and also here is a woman who was so happy. She was tough. She was in charge of a great state, Michigan, and she kept asking me to come back.”
    So, just before the “undercover operatives” line, Trump was talking about staffer in his campaign offices in Florida and just after he is praising Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.

    Which suggests that the “operatives” he is talking about are likely not law enforcement types, but rather political staffers. Which raises all sorts of questions:
    1) Who are these people and why are they “undercover?”
    2) Why would they “lose some effectiveness” if Trump named them?
    Trump offered very few clues beyond letting the crowd know these people were out there somewhere and that “they are great, great champions of our country.”
    The intent seems clear here: Trump wants to hint at the idea that he has a few campaign operatives doing covert activities. He wants the crowd to know that there’s something going on that’s secret (and maybe even shady!) but doesn’t want to actually explain what “it” is.
    Doing so makes the crowd feel as though they are in on something — a sort of secret that the liberals and the media can’t figure out. And that Trump is operating on multiple levels — the level you can see, yes, but also any number of other levels that you can’t even figure out. That Trump may be bending or breaking rules isn’t a drawback to the crowd. It’s actually part of the fun.
      Remember that Trump’s obsession with conspiracy lies at the roots of his presidential bid (he rose to prominence by suggesting, falsely, that Barack Obama was not born in the United States) and is a through line of his entire presidency — from his fact-free suggestion that 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in 2016 to his current obsession of widespread vote fraud in mail-in balloting.
      So, do these “unbelievable undercover operatives” actually exist? Honestly, who knows. Trump is totally comfortable making stuff up or, as I suspect is the case here, wildly exaggerating to make things (or people) seem way cooler, smarter and more strategic than they are. That is all in service, of course, of making Trump look cooler, smarter and more strategic.

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