Stephanie Grisham: Trump’s renegade who could be the most damaging yet | Books


On Monday, Stephanie Grisham will appear on Good Morning America. ABC presents the interview as an opportunity for the former White House press secretary to “break her silence”.

Donald Trump is unlikely to watch. Grisham isn’t the first insider to break the omertà about the Trumps, who have gone from running a New York real estate empire to occupying the White House, but she could well be the politician who is the closest of all.

A Republican agent before Trump took over the party, Grisham was Melania Trump’s spokesperson and confidante when she became first lady. Grisham moved to the West Wing, becoming Trump’s third press secretary, then returned to the East Wing as Melania’s chief of staff. Shortly before the Trumps left the White House, on the day of the Capitol attack, she resigned.

Now that she’s written a book, I’ll answer your questions now. The irony of the title was widely noticed. In nine months as a press secretary, Grisham did not answer any questions in a single White House briefing. Nonetheless, the book has generated many titles, almost all of them unflattering on its former patrons.

Stories range from salacious, with Trump calling a press secretary on Air Force One to ‘watch his ass’, to ridiculous, like when Trump and Boris Johnson used a G20 working breakfast to discuss kangaroo strength .

Grisham clearly highlights Trump’s inability to be president, whether because of his terrifying temper or his ridiculous demands – as when, she says, he finally ordered her to step behind the White House podium. , to defend him during his first dismissal by “acting” his infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president.

Grisham avoided that humiliation, she writes, by having “one of our most trusted ‘yeses’ in the House, Devin Nunes of California, read the appeal on the Congressional file. She also exposes the decomposition higher up in the party. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, is “rude and sticky … a snake.” Mitt Romney, the former Grisham boss, a mainstay of anti-Trump conservatives, is being ridiculed for trying to become secretary of state.

Back in the food chain, Grisham does not name the White House aide with whom she had a relationship that ended in allegations of abuse, choosing to describe him as the “Music Man,” who, according to her, could calm Trump by playing his favorite songs. , Remember the musical leader Cats among them. The aide is widely known to be Max Miller, who denies Grisham’s allegations – and who is now a candidate for Congress from Ohio.

Trumpworld, of course, fought back. Peter Navarro, a former White House business adviser and law enforcement official, called Grisham’s book “unnecessary gossip.” Trump claimed that Grisham was “paid by a radical left-wing editor to say bad and false things.”

Grisham listens to Trump speak to reporters at the White House. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch, will no doubt continue with his sales plan. But Grisham seems to have cut ties with the mainstream media as well as with his political party. Although the Washington Post and The New York Times have published detailed reports on her book, it seems unlikely that she will be welcomed into the fold as a columnist or television expert.

“Dirty acts”

Grisham resigned on Jan.6, the day Trump supporters launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, seeking to overturn the election in support of his lies about voter fraud. She says she rejected the electoral fraud argument. Politico has reported the opposite. In most eyes, anyway, it was far too late to leave the ship.

Eric Boehlert, founder of Press run, a newsletter covering the US media, said the Guardian Grisham was “a legitimate inside source who had a post all the time. So I think there’s a feeling like she’s in the room. It’s not like hearsay.

“[But] she’s been attending meetings for years, writing notes at night that the President of the United States is a danger to the world and the country. If you must come forward, have the courage to be a whistleblower. Don’t do this after everything is safe and he’s gone.

Some Trump aides who jumped or were pushed before Grisham managed to stay in the good graces of the media, but obviously not the Trumps.

Michael Cohen was Trump’s fixer before switching over during the Trump-Russia ties investigation. He also went to jail, for crimes including lying to Congress and facilitating illegal payments to two women who alleged affair with Trump.

Finishing his sentence in house arrest, he became a vocal critic for Trump through a book, Disloyal, a podcast, Mea Culpa, and as a voice on MSNBC. That’s quite a change for a man who once threatened journalists with threats to expose Trump’s “dirty deeds”.

John Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser. A foreign policy hawk on the Republican long before Trump, his time in the White House has not been a happy one, as Grisham relates. Trump failed to stop the publication of Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, but Bolton managed to avoid testifying in Trump’s first impeachment trial. This and his presence as a media commentator, particularly on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, continues to anger many on the left.

Then there’s Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier who spent 11 days as White House communications director. He stayed with Trump for a while, publishing a book praising the “blue collar president,” then broke up with him. “The Mooch” maintains a presence in the national media.

Boehlert said: “I feel like these books are useful in that they paint a first-hand portrait of a madman, period. And they are useful because they are effective.

But in the case of Grisham, he says, “it would have been useful if [she] had warned us in 2017, 2018… She had this little job, she had access to the most elitist circles on the planet. And she knew it was all wrong, and she knew it was dangerous. And now she’s profiting from a book after Trump is in Mar-a-Lago.

“It’s not exactly a profile of courage.”

“I looked totally incompetent”

As far as Trumpworld is concerned, perhaps Grisham’s main crime is betraying her access, as Melania’s chief of staff and Donald’s press secretary, to some of the family’s most intimate moments.

In her book, she describes having discovered “another piece of the puzzle which was the marriage of Donald and Melania Trump”. During a trip to France in the summer of 2017, she says, she found herself “mostly alone” with the couple before a public engagement.

Melania Trump rides in her motorcade dressed in the infamous Zara jacket, in Maryland in 2018.
Melania Trump rides in her motorcade dressed in the infamous Zara jacket, in Maryland in 2018. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

“Mrs. Trump… leaned over to her husband, who whispered in her ear. Moments later, I saw them kissing. It was all quite unusual; it was actually the only time I had ever seen them express physical intimacy in public.

Grisham says she was “so surprised I took a picture of the scene on my phone”. This photo, taken from behind, his unsuspecting subjects, is reproduced in Grisham’s book. It sounds like a surprising breach of privacy and trust.

Grisham also recounts his version of a particularly furious media frenzy. On a trip to the southern border in June 2018 that included a visit to a detention center for migrant children separated from their parents, Melania Trump wore a jacket that featured a slogan: “I really don’t care. Are you? ”The outrage was immediate and sustained.

Grisham blames Melania for going rogue, choosing her outfit while her closest assistant was distracted. The first lady, she writes, “didn’t care about the media frenzy around her jacket, that’s for sure. Or at least she pretended not to care… But I did care, because it was my job, and at best I looked totally incompetent.

Grisham now lives in Kansas, far from the hubbub of Washington. If she ever wishes to dive into it again, she can hope that DC society as a whole will respond like a White House predecessor did to her book.

Joe lockhart, a Bill Clinton press secretary, dismissed I’ll Take Your Questions Now in just five words.

“I don’t care,” he wrote. “Do you?”


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