New book by Trump advisers alleges that the president has ‘embedded enemies’

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has co-written a book on the president’s perceived enemies. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

By Philip Rucker
November 24 at 7:00 PM                   The Washington Post

Two of the president’s longest-serving advisers allege in a new book that scores of officials inside the White House, Congress, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies are “embedded enemies of President Trump” working to stymie his agenda and delegitimize his presidency.

The authors, Corey R. Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, are both Republican operatives who do not work in the administration but are close to Trump and fashion themselves as his outside protectors. They portray the president as victim to disloyalty on his staff and “swamp creatures” intent on extinguishing his political movement.

Their book, “Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency,” which is being released Tuesday and was obtained in advance by The Washington Post, paints a dark and at times conspiratorial portrait of Trump’s Washington. The authors identify by name a number of Trump appointees who they claim have formed a “resistance” inside the government during the first two years of Trump’s presidency.

Lewandowski and Bossie write that these officials “attack the administration with a thousand cuts. They do this in complete disregard to the millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump. They do it only for their own ends. There are far too many people in the deep reaches of the federal government who harbor as deep a hatred of Trump as does anyone from the Clinton/Obama cabal. The thing is, they get away with it when no one is looking.”

Anticipation of the book — the latest memoir by Trump aides or allies — has caused consternation inside the president’s orbit, in part because the authors are controversial figures. Its release comes at a moment of transition for Trump, who is weighing a number of changes to his Cabinet and senior staff and is preparing for a realignment of power in Washington in January, when Democrats take control of the House.

Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, and Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager, enjoy personal relationships with Trump and traveled with him on campaign trips this year. But some White House aides are said to be suspicious of their motives and worry about them influencing the president — including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who routinely restricted their access to the West Wing, the authors write.

“Trump’s Enemies,” which is 288 pages and published by Center Street, is a sequel to the first book Lewandowski and Bossie wrote together, the campaign memoir “Let Trump Be Trump,” which was released last year.

Lewandowski and Bossie met with Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 20 for a friendly interview, an edited transcript of which appears in the new book. Trump told the authors that he considers the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to have helped him politically.

“I think it makes my base stronger,” Trump said in the interview. “I would have never said this to you. But I think the level of love now is far greater than when we won. I don’t know, what do you think, Mike?”

Vice President Pence, who sat in for a portion of the interview, replied, “As strong or stronger.”

Trump spent much of the interview complaining about the news media. When Bossie asked him who or what is his biggest enemy, Trump replied: “The greatest enemy of this country is Fake News. I really mean it.” He went on to say, “I think that one of the most important things that I’ve done, especially for the public, is explain that a lot of the news is indeed fake.”

Trump told Lewandowski and Bossie that he regrets not immediately dismissing James B. Comey as FBI director. “I should have fired him the day after I won and announced please get the hell out,” Trump said. The president also said congressional Republicans “let me down” by not fighting harder to secure funding to construct a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.


Lewandowski and Bossie use their book to settle scores with a number of fellow Trump advisers. They refer to Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who are cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, each as a “rat.”

The authors describe a cohort of White House aides — including former press secretary Sean Spicer and former deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin — as “the November Ninth Club,” arguing that they are establishment Republicans who did not fully support Trump until the day after he was elected, when they began angling for powerful government jobs.

Lewandowski and Bossie also savage former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn as a “limousine liberal” and “the poster boy for the disloyal staff conspiring against President Trump.” And they accuse former staff secretary Rob Porter of working to thwart Trump’s agenda and style to make him more traditionally “presidential.”

The narrative reads in part like Trump’s Twitter grievances in book form. Lewandowski and Bossie write at length about the same FBI and Justice Department officials whose names pepper so many presidential tweets — Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Sally Yates. And they go after the same intelligence officials that Trump often targets — James R. Clapper Jr. and John Brennan — and accuse them of wanting to “nullify the election and bring down the president” by detailing Russia’s interference.

The authors also go after many of Trump’s Democratic foes. They refer to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) as “crazy”; call Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “many people’s favorite liberal wacko”; and label Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) an “enemy of President Trump.” They also spell out former president Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, echoing a common Republican tactic meant to falsely suggest that the 44th president is a Muslim.

Like Trump, the authors use colorful language to dismiss the Russia investigation, specifically the notion that the Trump campaign conspired with Russians, as a made-up excuse for Democrats losing the 2016 election. They call it “a sweeping work of fiction so complex, so audacious, so unbelievable that if they gave out awards for bad excuses, the Democrats would win an Oscar, an Emmy, and maybe even the Heisman Trophy.”

Trump’s bad week is a ‘nightmare’ for the GOP


The Washington Post
Trump’s bad week is a ‘nightmare’ for the GOP
By Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan September 30

Republican leaders and strategists are unnerved by Donald Trump’s erratic attacks on a Latina beauty queen and other outbursts this week, increasingly fearful that the GOP nominee is damaging his White House hopes and doing lasting harm to the party in the campaign’s final stretch.

Party officials said they are newly embarrassed by Trump’s impulsive behavior and exasperated by his inability to concentrate on his change message and frame the race as a referendum on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to interviews with more than two dozen of them.

Senate and House candidates are ducking questions about Trump and distancing themselves, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to talk about him. And few elected leaders are counseling him.

“Maybe every two weeks,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said to a business crowd about how often he speaks with Trump.

Trump went into the first presidential debate Monday night in Hempstead, N.Y., with swagger, ahead or tied in some national and battleground-state polls and, momentarily at least, relatively disciplined on the stump. But his performance was widely panned and revealed his thin skin. In the days since, he has become distracted by old grudges and picked new fights, often involving female or minority targets.

Trump plunged into a feud with Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner he mocked and humiliated for her weight gain two decades ago. He punctuated his campaign to discredit her with a series of tweets around 5 a.m. Friday maligning her and referring his followers to Machado’s “sex tape.” There is no evidence that such a tape exists; he appears to have been referring to racy footage of her from a reality television show.

Also this week, Trump raised former president Bill Clinton’s past extramarital affairs as a campaign issue, delivered his most direct attack yet on Hillary Clinton’s health and waged war with news organizations over alleged bias.

Reflecting upon Trump’s actions, Matt Borges, the Republican Party chairman in battleground Ohio, said, “Can this thing just end — please?”

“My God,” he sighed, “what a nightmare.”

Borges said he has personally urged Trump to run “a very disciplined, different kind of campaign,” although he remains confident that Trump will carry Ohio regardless.

Former Virginia congressman Thomas M. Davis, for decades one of the GOP’s top national campaign tacticians, said there is mounting concern that Trump’s lack of restraint is an anchor on him and the party.

“You’ve got the nomination of the party, and you’ve got a certain responsibility to the party to try to win this thing, but he gets sidetracked very easily,” Davis said. “He goes off on personal vendettas, and it’s just not helpful if you want to win. The tragedy is he has every opportunity to win.”

Polls show Clinton beginning to pull away in several states, with seven-point leads in the latest polls from Michigan and New Hampshire, and ticking up in national surveys. A Fox News national poll released Friday showed Clinton ahead of Trump 43 percent to 40 percent in a four-way race.

In private conversations this week, Trump’s high command has sought to reassure party figures, including Senate and House leaders, that there is no reason to be alarmed by the debate or by Trump’s ensuing theatrics, explaining them away as part of his appeal to the masses.

Publicly, the candidate’s top allies angrily batted away all criticism and said they consider it a betrayal of the nominee. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a confidantof Trump’s who spent much of the week traveling at the candidate’s side, blasted fellow Republicans for widespread disunity that he does not see in the rival party.

“Republicans are a bunch of frightened rabbits,” Giuliani said. “Unfortunately, we have a party made up of a bunch of people who get frightened very easily, and their hands start to shake whenever something happens that they don’t like.”

Jason Miller, a senior adviser on Trump’s campaign, said, “There’s always going to be some degree of Beltway chatter, no matter how perfectly things are going.”

But, he added: “I think the party will be very united going into November because of the desire to beat Hillary Clinton and elect a true agent of change like Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is always going to be his own most effective spokesperson.”

The Republican National Committee, chaired by Reince Priebus, remains one of Trump’s staunchest boosters within the party, with its strategist Sean Spicer working many days from Trump Tower in New York and Priebus joining Trump for fundraisers and rallies.

But as members of Congress prepared this week to disperse to their home states for the remainder of the campaign, there was an acute sense of anxiety about Trump on Capitol Hill.

At an intimate fundraiser Wednesday for Rep. Joseph J. Heck (R-Nev.), who is running for the Senate, McConnell asked the group of about a dozen supporters how many of them think Trump can win. About half of the attendees raised their hands. But when McConnell then asked how many thought Trump would win, no hands went up, and the room fell silent, according to a person familiar with the scene who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a closed event.

Few Republicans were keen on discussing Trump’s debate performance or defending the personal dramas he has reignited. McConnell bluntly swept aside questions about Trump.

“This is not something that I am going to discuss today,” the Senate leader told one reporter who asked about Trump’s impact on Senate races.

Pressed by another reporter about why he would not speak about Trump, McConnell replied, “Because I choose not to.”

When Ryan was asked to comment on Trump’s attacks Tuesday on Machado, the Wisconsin Republican demurred: “I was working out and working this morning. I didn’t watch.”

Embattled GOP senators found various ways to avoid evaluating Trump’s debate turn.

“I didn’t see it, guys. I was on an airplane,” Florida’s Marco Rubio told reporters.

“I have no idea. I’m not a pundit,” Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson said.

“I think he did fine, and I look forward to watching the next debate,” New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte said.

Terry Sullivan, a veteran GOP consultant who managed Rubio’s presidential campaign, said: “He’s definitely hurting the party if for no other reason than these candidates keep getting asked about stupid Trump crap. At best, he is a distraction for these candidates — and at worst, he’s a huge drag on the ticket.”

Some of Trump’s most ardent defenders said after the debate that he ought to turn his attention to the issues that will affect the country and show he can govern effectively, not become stuck in quarrels.

“When Hillary lays traps, or the moderator asks questions, get it focused,” Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said as he left a weekly meeting of loyal Trump backers this week. “Get it focused on what really moves the needle in regards to how you deliver your message and vision for the American people.”

Still, Trump dug in on Machado, creating discomfort for fellow Republican politicians. On Friday morning, when Rep. John L. Mica was asked on MSNBC about Trump’s tweets lashing out at her and calling her “disgusting,” the Florida Republican said awkwardly, “I don’t tweet, and I don’t retweet.”

Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, a Trump supporter and former Republican National Committee chairman, refused in an interview Friday to answer questions about Trump’s Machado feud.

“I won’t engage the discussion,” Gilmore said. “It’s outside of what the main focus of the campaign should be, a diversion created by the Democrats and the media. I would not address the lady at all, to you or anybody else.”

Robin Hayes, chairman of the Republican Party in North Carolina, a crucial battleground state for Trump, said the nominee must tether his pitch to his promise to disrupt Washington and make the case against Clinton’s judgment.

“I don’t mean to be a critic, but a coaching tip would be, ‘Stay on the message and drive it home,’ ” Hayes said. “Whatever the other stuff is, it doesn’t matter.”

Among Trump’s backers on Capitol Hill, there is an acceptance of Trump’s style, even if it makes them anxious.

“Donald Trump is Donald Trump,” Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said. “The reality is he’s operating in a separate world from politicians, the rest of us. He gets away with things no one else would. People are willing to accept someone who’s not close to being perfect because of the anti-establishment mood.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said, “I’m sure there are some nervous Nellies, but he seems to win, and win big.”