When showing guests around the White House, President Donald Trump gets a kick out of ushering them to a room off the Oval Office, according to a new book written by a former aide.
“I’m told this is where Bill and Monica …,” Mr Trump allegedly told a US television anchor he gave a tour to in 2017, alluding to where former president Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky started their affair in 1995.
“We’ve remodelled it since then,” Mr Trump is said to have told another visitor. Aides told The Washington Post that part of the tour often leads to “lengthy, sometimes crass conversations”.
An enthusiastic tour guide, Mr Trump also relishes asking visitors, “Want to see the Lincoln bedroom?” then typically points out the bed was too small for someone of Abraham Lincoln’s height.
The anecdotes are included in Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, written by former White House communications aide Cliff Sims and released on Tuesday (US time).
Sims was once so close to the president that at his 2017 inauguration, “I planted myself beside Mr Trump and refused to move the entire night,” he said.
Now, the pair’s relationship isn’t so convivial. Sims is the latest in a string of former Trump confidants and journalists including Omarosa Manigault Newman and Michael Wolff to write tell-alls.
Mr Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning, refuting the anecdotes and describing Sims as nothing more than a “gofer” and a “mess”.
His outburst has done little to dampen the appetite for the book’s revelations.
A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2019
Team of Vipers, according to media excerpts published ahead of time, paints a now-familiar picture of an “absolutely out of control” administration and a gabby president.
According to The Washington Post, quoting Team of Vipers, the President has told guests his private dining room was in “rough shape” and had a hole in the wall when he came into the West Wing.
President Barack Obama “just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” Mr Trump told a recent group of four, according to the book.
An Obama White House official said there was no hole in the wall and that Mr Obama rarely worked in the room and did not watch basketball there.
First Lady Melania Trump is described in the book as a protective wife who was “never” a “reluctant and put-upon spouse who just wanted to escape” her marriage, according to the Washington Observer.
Wrote Sims, on inauguration day she squeezed her husband’s hand and told him, “We’re going to do this together. And you’re going to be a great president”.
Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway didn’t fare so well, being described as “a cartoon villain brought to life” and big leaker of information, whose sole agenda is self-survival.
“She seemed to be perennially cloaked in an invisible fur coat, casting an all-knowing smile, as if she’d collected 98 Dalmatians with only three more to go,” Sims wrote, according to Vanity Fair.
Ms Conway clapped back in Vanity Fair: “While it’s rare, I prefer to knife people from the front, so they see it coming.”
The Associated Press quoted Sims as saying in the book that Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller said he’d be happy if “not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil”.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at her press briefing she’s “not aware” that Mr Miller has ever made such a statement.
Speaking on Good Morning America, Sims admitted he “was a viper” and “part of the team” he’s now exposing.
“I did a bunch of things that I wish I would’ve done different,” he said.
Citing current and former White House officials, Politico reported on Monday Mr Trump is “really hopping mad” about the book and “feels duped by a guy who he trusted”.