Transcript for Former White House aide Cliff Sims on his time with the Trump administration
Former white house aide cliff Sims says he saw firsthand the insanity, backstabbing, and bizarre behavior going on behind closed doors, and he lays it all out there in his new book "Team of vipers." Please welcome cliff Sims. So you spent 500 days -- 500 days. -- In the trump white house and you kind of say it's -- it felt more like "Game of thrones" but with characters from "Veep." What did you mean? First of all, my main goal here is to have as much fun as the mooch so I'm starting with that. But yeah, it was a lot of the "Game of thrones," backstabbing, all the kind of stuff that you see certainly goes on there. I was a part of that. I write about it in the book. I'm not going to point fingers at other people. I got caught up in that too. So I'm very honest about myself, the things I wish I had done differently and got caught up in all that. I get a call about 9:00 and it's a friend of mine who works next door in the Eisenhower building and says I just saw Sean spicer toting a refrigerator out of here with a cord dangling behind him. Turns out it was an argument over junior staffers over this refrigerator he wanted in his office in the west wing. So when I say characters from "Veep," that's kind of what I'm talking about, yeah. So president Nixon had an enemy's list. Do you remember that? Right, yeah. He hated everyone who disagreed with him, who was outside the white house. This guy, according to you, has an enemy's list but his enemies are working for him. Yeah. It's like one of the most vivid scenes in the book. One of the common misconceptions is he doesn't want pushback or people to tell him when he's wrong. I found he was receptive to that, would rather have aides argue it out and he would make a decision. In that scene I come into the private study just off of the oval office and he was very frustrated because it wasn't just leaks, it was like a white house official says bad things about trump. So he's talking about him and he says who are these people? These people are supposed to work for me. And I basically made the case that a lot of the people that told you to quit during the campaign, a lot of the people that bailed on you then, they're now here in the white house. And so they're bailing on you here in the white house too. But, you know, when I walked out of that -- and I didn't lie about anyone. I gave my honest opinion to the president. But that was one of those moments where I realized when we're talking about a team of vipers, I was playing that game too. I'm sitting there with the president of the United States making this enemies list about my colleagues and that's not right either. Is there anyone on the list that we should know about right now? I'm sorry, joy, you and I are number one and two. That's fine. We know we're on it. Start with joy but now let's talk about -- You talk about a lot of people in this book within the white house but a person that you really don't like is kellyanne Conway. You described her as -- It appears that way. You describe her as the American sniper of west wing marksman. You say she's a cartoon villain brought to life and you write about catching her leaking to reporters on at least more than one occasion. She's still one of the only nonfamily members still by his side and you were fired -- He quit. You quit. She's still there One thing that will never go out of style in trump world is someone with thick skin, who's tough, willing to go on TV and defend the president. I give kellyanne all the props in the world for being that tough and being able to go in and take people on the way that she does. I was offended that day because I was called to her office to help her write a statement responding to accusations that she would off the air say bad things about Donald Trump. So I'm sitting on her laptop writing this statement and her imessages are synced so I can see what she's saying and she's doing exactly what I'm supposed to be writing a statement defending her about. She's leaking as you are typing? As I'm typing. Listen, the great lesson of all of this may be that no good thing ever comes from your messages being synced. There's never an accidentally good thing that happens. Do you think that at the end of the day she and her husband actually agree? I don't know. That is the great, you know, kind of the rumor that goes around in D.C. Is that it's like they're in cahoots together, it's a big kind of charade. I don't know if that's true or not. But she responded to that and she said leakers get better press than I do. She gave a legal note I need to read in response to the book. She said the real leakers past and present get much more positive press than I do. While it's where I prefer to knife people from the front so they see it coming. I'm not a spokesperson from the white house but I was getting calls this weekend from people in the white house who said very different things about you than the way you describe yourself saying, for one, you were one of the leakers and that when you left the white house some of the leaking stopped and you were disloyal. How would you respond? It reminds me of eminem in "8 mile." I know that's a random comparison. If you remember the great battle scene, eminem starts off by saying I'm going to tell you every bad thing about myself. I was truthful in this book about myself and the things that I wish I had done differently. Did you ever leak? No. No. I talk about the things I would have done differently. The book is the look. I put my name on it. You're not the op-ed anonymous? No. No. You seem like a nice guy. I don't know you but for me -- for me I have taken so many hits because I won't get on board with trumpism, all day every day of my life within the party. Some of us knew from day one that this guy is saying things about Mexicans are rapists, attacking war heros, things of that no.nature, and there seems to be this trend of the atonement that ends up on "The view," of people who worked at the white house who end up here to apologize for working in the white house. I just want to know why does it take -- for me I'm a little jaded at this point. Are you just trying to not become Sean spicer? Not at all. At the end of this book I'll say that I was proud to work for the American people, I wroud to work for this white house, and I was proud to work for Donald Trump. There are a lot of things about him that I agree that I would love that he would do differently, but I believed in him while I was there and I'm not coming out here to apologize for working for him by any means. There's a lot of things in here that I think would surprise people that they would actually like about the guy. Why did you resign if everything was so great? There's a whole kind of end of the book that tells the story. The white house says that you were fired. Go ahead, sunny. We know trump is all about loyalty. Yeah. And this book will not make him trump sued omarosa. He called her, let's see, a dog. He also called her a crazed low-life after she published her tell-all. Are you worried at all about revenge from the white house? No. I mean, honestly, I think if the president read this book I think he would see account. It's not -- I didn't set out to set him on fire, to go after any of them, but I'll tell you what, I wrestled with that exact question, am I going to get a tweet one day from the president. You know what the truth is? In Washington D.C. And New York too, people's identity gets wrapped up in their job and what they do. That's true. My identity is wrapped up in my faith and who Jesus says I am. So no matter what anyone says on the record, off the record, on background about me, I know who I am. What about trump 2020? What about it? You've written a book, "Team of vipers." I've read your book. You talk about the chaos, the backstabbing. Is he fit to serve for another four years? I think he is fit to serve. No, listen, listen. I can disagree with some of the things he does while having seen it firsthand. I can say that he is not unfit, you know what I mean? He can't make a deal. That's what he ran on. He can't even make a deal. He's made a lot of deals. He botched the wall thing. I think that's fair, there's no doubt about that. How come you didn't have any security clearance? This is one of the crazy things, like toward the end of the book. You go through this whole FBI background. You know all about this. Yo background checked. Your family and your friends get calls and all these things happen and then kind of the last step is they activate your clearance. And I come to find out the very end I'm sitting in the white house council's office and they realize, oh, my gosh, we never activated clearance. So you never knew that your clearance wasn't activated? Right. All those meetings you sat in -- There's a lot of people in similar situations. Isn't note I T enow ook, cliffk you. Dice "Pers," isailable Ieresting B interest -aw!remembersed to goeria
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