When President Trump brings senators, New York friends or other guests to the Oval Office, he occasionally opens a door near his desk summoning them to follow. Flashing a grin, he wants his friends to see where Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky reportedly began their sexual encounters.
“We’ve remodeled it since then,” he said on a tour in December, said a person with direct knowledge of the event. In a visit in 2017, Trump told a TV anchor, “I’m told this is where Bill and Monica . . .” — stopping himself from going further, according to “Team of Vipers,” a new book by former White House aide Cliff Sims that The Washington Post obtained before its publication Tuesday.
Three other people who have embarked on a tour with Trump said he made similar comments regarding the former president and White House intern, laughing and making facial expressions. The subject often leads to lengthy, sometimes crass conversations, aides said.
The president has also claimed to guests, without evidence, that his private dining room off the Oval Office was in “rough shape” and had a hole in the wall when he came into the West Wing and that President Barack Obama used it to watch sports, according to two White House officials and two other people who have heard him discuss the dining room. “He just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” Trump told a recent group, before saying he upgraded Obama’s smaller TV to a sprawling, flat-screen one, the four people said.
View this post on Instagram
The first photograph is looking down the short hallway from the Oval Office to President Obama’s private dining room (he’s in the midst of his weekly lunch with Vice President Biden). Comrade Minus claims that when he came into office, the dining room was in “rough shape and had a hole in the wall” (see Josh Dawsey’s article in The Washington Post). “He (Obama) just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” according to minus. Click through the pictures to see what President Obama actually did in the dining room with a variety of people: he had lunch. If you spot the hole in the wall, you win a free trip to visit the medieval concrete wall in Mexico.
President Donald Trump is “very pissed off” and “really hopping mad” at former aide Cliff Sims’ new book that reveals firsthand the chaos and infighting that is ever present in his White House, according to several current and former White House officials.
Trump is asking aides: “Who is this guy? Why is he writing this book? He wasn’t even in meetings,” the sources said. He also dismissively refers to Sims — who served until last May as director of White House message strategy and a special assistant to the president —as “the videographer” because he also helped Trump with the weekly video and radio addresses, according to three current and former White House officials.
But it is unclear how the impulsive Trump might react after the kickoff of Sims’ official media tour, which began early Monday with an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “The View.” Sims is also slated to appear on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” tonight.
Although Trump insists Sims — an Alabama native who previously worked on the Trump 2016 campaign – was never in his inner circle, he “feels duped by a guy who he trusted,” said a person close to the White House.
In the book, Sims described how he worked with Trump to create what Sims calls an “enemies list” of suspected leakers. Sims “creates a list of leakers which turns out to be the people he doesn’t like, and the guy who makes the list turns out to be the million-dollar leaker,” said a current White House official. A person familiar with the matter confirmed that Sims had received a seven-figure advance for the book, a fact that the New York Times first reported in November.
The person close to the White House also noted that: “The president’s been warned about lots of hires that shouldn’t have happened, and he’s still hired them.”
The White House had no public complaint when Sims departed last year. In a statement to an Alabama news outlet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “Cliff Sims was a valuable member of President Trump’s team on the campaign and for 15 months in the White House. I worked with him on both and he is talented, smart, and worked hard for the President. We hated to see him resign from the White House, but know he will continue to be a loyal supporter for the President and impactful for him in the future.”
But now Sims’ book has united many former and current White House officials in casting out Sims from Trump-world.
The former official said that Sims often attended White House meetings uninvited, and that his former colleagues now believe he was in effect covertly reporting on them for a future book.
Sims and the White House both declined to comment.
Sims’ friends inside and outside the White House responded to the mounting criticism of him by saying it comes from people “panicking” over how the books portrays them and “protecting themselves,” as one current senior White House official put it.
Sims was “with the president quite often alone” and played an important role on the messaging for a 2017 tax reform bill, said the official.
“The president’s close relationship with Sims wasn’t a secret to anyone in the building,” another former administration official added.
Some of Sims’ critics say they have distrusted him since the administration’s early days. During Trump’s first year in office, Trump’s then- chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had to “drag” Sims up to the White House counsel’s office after he was suspected of leaking, according to a current White House official and a person close to the White House.