Briefing

The most shocking claims from the newest books about Trump's presidency

McConnell allegedly called Trump 'crazy,' Melania reportedly said he was 'blowing it' with COVID, and more

Ever since former President Donald Trump left office, journalists and former staff members have rushed to publish tell-all books detailing the juicy behind-the-scenes chaos of his administration. In former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham's I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House, for example, she claimed Trump would cut his hair "with a huge pair of scissors." And two Washington Post reporters alleged in their exposé that the former president wanted to ship COVID-19 patients to Guantanamo Bay. 

But the shocking and bizarre claims haven't stopped there — nor have the tell-alls. Here's everything you need to know about the craziest claims from the newest books:

"So Help Me God" by Mike Pence (Nov. 15, 2022)

  • Pence and Trump's working relationship "did not end well"

Former Vice President Mike Pence released a memoir called So Help Me God in November in which he chronicles his journey into politics and how he eventually ended up at the side of one of the nation's most controversial presidents. Throughout the book, Pence touts his loyalty to Trump, CNN reports. The opening line of the book says, "I had always been loyal to President Donald Trump."

But in an excerpt published in The Wall Street Journal, Pence outlines how that relationship dissolved. Despite what he describes as "a close working relationship," he admits, "It did not end well." Pence blames the fissure in their relationship on Trump's actions that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

"In the months that followed, we spoke from time to time, but when the president returned to the rhetoric that he was using before that tragic day and began to publicly criticize those of us who defended the Constitution, I decided it would be best to go our separate ways," Pence writes.

  • Trump told Pence he was "too honest"

In another snippet shared by CNN, Pence writes about a conversation that preceded the Jan. 6 incident concerning a lawsuit filed by GOP representatives that sought to have a judge declare that the vice president had "exclusive authority and sole discretion to decide which electoral votes should count." During the conversation on New Year's Day 2021, Trump reportedly asked Pence if the lawsuit "gives you the power, why would you oppose it?"

In response, Pence says he "told him, as I had many times, that I didn't believe I possessed that power under the Constitution." Trump berated him, saying, "You're too honest." He also predicted, "Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts … People are gonna think you're stupid."

"Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress's Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump" by Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian (Oct. 18, 2022)

  • Mitch McConnell called Trump "crazy" after Jan. 6

Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian's Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress's Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump details the two failed impeachment hearings against the former president.

An excerpt of the book published by The Washington Post offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) reportedly reacted in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot. That night, as he watched his aides move the furniture they'd used to bar his office doors from rioters, McConnell was reportedly "overcome with emotion at the trauma" they had experienced, Bade and Demirjian write. "We've all known that Trump is crazy," he then told them, per Unchecked. "I'm done with him. I will never speak to him again."

  • McConnell seriously considered voting to impeach Trump

In the same excerpt published by the Post, Bade and Demirijian also outlined how McConnell flip-flopped between voting in favor of impeachment and ultimately voting to acquit the former president post-Jan. 6. Though McConnell was serious about being done with Trump, "his party, it seemed, was not." And "to his chagrin," say Bade and Demirjian, "a large chunk of his members were once again coalescing around the former president." Meanwhile, McConnell knew that his members were looking to him to advise whether they should publicly denounce the impeachment as unconstitutional.

Fearing the potential backlash, McConnell succumbed to pressure and ultimately voted against impeachment. Despite having considered it, as well as his frequent pro-impeachment consults with anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), he eventually said Republicans should "just ignore" Trump. He also feared turning the former president into a martyr, telling Cheney, "We don't disagree on the substance; we just disagree on the tactics."

 "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America" by Maggie Haberman (Oct. 4, 2022)

  • Trump said he was not leaving the White House after losing his re-election bid

Previews of New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman's book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America caused quite a stir when they came out. One of the book's rather shocking claims is that Trump told his aides he had no intention of vacating the White House following his loss in 2020. 

According to Haberman, Trump initially conceded defeat, and comforted his team by telling them, "We did our best." However, as time passed, he began to suggest that he would not step aside to allow President Biden to move in because he felt the election was rigged. Haberman writes that the former president was overheard asking Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, "Why should I leave if they stole it from me?" 

  • Trump clogged White House toilets trying to flush documents

Haberman's book also alleges that Trump frequently clogged White House toilets with documents he was trying to get rid of. While he was in office, White House residence staff sometimes found wads of printed paper clogging the toilets, leading them to believe Trump had tried to flush the paper down. Axios also shared photos of alleged flushing incidents, which were provided by Haberman, on Twitter:

"The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021" by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser (Sept. 20, 2022)

  • Trump told the king of Jordan he would give him the West Bank 

The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021 by Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, and Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker, includes insider information about the chaotic nature of the Trump administration. In one of the title's stunning revelations, The Divider alleges that Trump once shocked King Abdullah II of Jordan by offering to give him the West Bank, where the Palestinian population historically wished to eliminate the monarchy. Abdullah II was taken aback and reportedly told an American friend, "I thought I was having a heart attack."

  • Melania told Trump he was "blowing it" with his COVID response

According to Baker and Glasser's reporting, both Trump's wife, Melania Trump, and his ally, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, criticized the former president's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "You're blowing this," they told him, per The Divider. Melania in particular was "rattled" by COVID "and convinced that Trump was screwing up," Baker and Glasser claim. "'This is serious. It's going to be really bad, and you need to take it more seriously than you're taking it,'" Melania supposedly told her husband, per the book. "He had just dismissed her. 'You worry too much,' she remembered him saying. 'Forget it.'"

  • Trump thought he could prosecute Comey and Clinton himself

Further, The Divider alleges that Trump had to be told he did not have the power to prosecute his opponents personally. Such a reminder came after he suggested he would prosecute longtime rivals Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey. 

"At one point in the spring of 2018, Trump instructed [former White House Counsel] Don McGahn to direct [former Attorney General Jeff Sessions] to prosecute Clinton and Comey and, if the attorney general refused, said he would do it himself as president," Baker and Glasser wrote, per a book excerpt published by Insider. "McGahn had to explain that the president had no such power."

As a follow-up, McGahn penned a memo to Trump explaining it would be illegal to use his position as president to prosecute his political nemeses, per The Divider and Insider.

"Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent U.S. Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department" by Geoffrey Berman (Sept. 13, 2022)

  • Trump pushed to prosecute his critics

In his new book Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent US Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman details his experience working under Trump before his eventual firing. Berman discusses in detail how the Justice Department under Trump often pressured Berman's office to prosecute people the president deemed a threat, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, per The New York Times

In Holding the Line, Berman claims Justice Department officials informed his office it would be responsible for investigating Kerry's conduct concerning Iran; the official had apparently irritated Trump for trying to preserve a nuclear deal he had brokered with the country. "The conduct that had annoyed the president was now a priority of the Department of Justice," Berman wrote. 

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