'Anonymous' book excerpts describe Trump's score-settling and toxic West Wing
Posted November 11, 2019 8:29 p.m. EST
CNN — President Donald Trump oversees a toxic West Wing and attempts to use his office to settle scores -- including with the state of California and former Vice President Joe Biden -- according to a new book by an anonymous author identified only as a senior administration official.
Painting the White House as a snake-pit of D-list opportunists, the unnamed writer claims Trump oversees a shambolic operation where staffers are out mainly for themselves. The President, the unnamed author known as "Anonymous" writes, is equally amoral, using the power of the presidency for political gain and ignoring attempts by his aides to moderate his approach.
"No external force can ameliorate his attraction to wrongdoing," the author writes in the forthcoming book "A Warning," excerpts of which were obtained by CNN on Monday.
"The net effect of the president's war on democratic institutions is that he has turned the government of the United States into one of his companies," Anonymous says, "a badly managed enterprise defined by a sociopathic personality in the c-suite, rife with infighting, embroiled in lawsuits, falling deeper into debt, allergic to internal and external criticism, open to shady side deals, operating with limited oversight, and servicing its self-absorbed owner at the expense of its customers."
The claims made in book echo what ousted officials have said publicly and what Democrats are currently probing in their impeachment efforts. The description of an administration in chaos is recounted in sworn testimony from several named witnesses in the inquiry.
But the anonymous author provides more grist to the notion Trump is governing untethered to presidential -- or possibly legal -- norms, and that his White House is populated by sharp elbows.
The writer says Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden's son -- currently the focus of congressional investigators pursuing impeachment -- derived from his fixation on his own political standing. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine.
"With the campaign consuming his daily mental bandwidth, Trump couldn't resist the temptation to use his office to gain a competitive edge," the author writes, without providing any fresh evidence that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo to exchange US military assistance for Ukraine's cooperation in the investigations.
Trump's pursuit of political score-settling occurs closer to home, the unnamed author says, citing his attempts to punish states that swung for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
"The president surprises staff with horrifying ways to make life difficult for these parts of America," Anonymous writes, naming California as particularly prone to Trump's personal requital. "Trump hates California. He can't believe that an entertainer such as himself is unable to win over the home of Hollywood."
The Golden State animus extended to a demand to staff to cut off emergency funding during last year's wildfires, according to the book. Aides tried to contain the damage, even as Trump was raising the idea with "random people." They thought the storm had passed -- only to have Trump tweet weeks later that he was halting the flow of dollars.
The book -- which goes on sale November 19 and is published by Twelve, a division of the Hachette Book Group -- is authored by the same unnamed senior administration official who wrote a New York Times op-ed last year. At the time, Trump called the action "treasonous."
Sources familiar with the book have previously confirmed to CNN that the publisher and the author's literary agents were provided verification that the author of the book and op-ed is the same person.
The White House has flatly rejected the claims in the book, and in a statement to CNN on Monday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said "the book as written presents a portrait that is the exact opposite of what the President actually is."
"If this person has in fact been inside White House meetings, or has any access to the President, he is acting like a spy. This person is a gutless coward, who doesn't have the spine to put his or her name to their shameful lies," Grisham said. "This corrupt scheme to undermine our President with deceit is an attempted overthrow of our democracy and an assault on our great Nation. There is no heroism in using anonymity to tell lies that only serve to hurt a country, while 'donating' the profits to the media in an obvious effort to purchase favorable coverage - also called a bribe."
As Trump enters the final year of his first term, he finds himself surrounded with fewer aides willing to deny or reject his demands, the author writes. Instead, he's amassed a collection of officials with ulterior motives -- "the cast of characters grew seedier" -- with little interest in containing the President.
"There are fewer people left to reject the folly of these ideas, and those that do are written off by the president as disloyal," the author writes.
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is depicted as a hands-off enabler who angled for months to get the post and whose main goal is "making bad ideas for palatable, to soften their rough edges."
The book isn't the only new release to suggest there were once officials in Trump's administration working to counteract some of his more damaging impulses. Former United Nations envoy Nikki Haley writes in her new memoir that two onetime officials -- former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then-chief of staff John Kelly -- attempted to recruit her to "save the country" by undermining the President's decisions, a request she refused.
Both those officials are gone, and the unnamed writer suggests the current makeup of the Trump administration is both more amateurish and more backstabbing.
"The cannibalistic culture is deterring good people from coming on board," the author writes.