In a new book due for release later this month, a former Trump staffer describes how Donald Trump kept an ‘enemies list’, a handwritten note with the names of his own staff he believed were leaking information to the press, in his breast pocket.
Cliff Sims, who worked as a communications aide in Trump’s White House in 2017, has written about his experience in a tell-all book aptly named, ‘Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House’.
Although the book is not due for release until later this month, Axios reported that within it Sims describes the president’s preoccupation with discerning which staffers could be trusted and who were “snakes” and “bottom-feeders.”
Sims recounts one exchange when Donald Trump invited him to the West Wing but instructed the young aide to enter via the private dining room so senior staffers would not be alerted to his presence. Trump met with Sims in a private study next to the Oval Office.
The president told him, “give me their names,” adding, “I want these people out of here. I’m going to take care of this. We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders.”
Axios reported that Trump then instructed Sims to judge the loyalty of each and every one of his staffers. Sims described how “almost no one was deemed beyond reproach— not his chief of staff, not senior aides, almost no one other than those with whom he shared a last name.”
Sims said Trump then made two lists, one with the names of staffers he could trust, and another ‘naughty list’ of staffers he suspected were leaking information to the press. Sims recounts that the ‘naughty list’ had around 10 names on it while the ‘nice’ list was limited to just five names, all of whom had been with Trump since his campaign.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.