The books about Donald Trump that will never be written by his loyalists
One byproduct of the tempestuous presidency of Donald Trump has been the spate of juicy tell all “proximity books” written by his aides, family, and friends. Once we had “Counsel to the President” by Clark Clifford, which was an illuminating memoir of his five decades in Washington. Now we have “Team of Vipers” by Cliff Simms about the administration.
There is also “Disloyal” by Michael Cohen and “Unhinged” by Omarosa Manigault Newman. You can read “Melania and Me” by Stephanie Wolkoff and “Speaking for Myself” by Sarah Sanders. Do not forget “The Threat” by Andrew McCabe and “A Warning” by Miles Taylor.
A library of such books could be named “Too Much and Never Enough.” Some were best sellers and some were not. But it is more than books. Newspapers and media sites are crowded with mea culpas in opinion pieces for former administration officials.
The genre rests on various measures of hindsight, defense, or denial. Accomplices become heroes. Readers are asked to forgive the naivete of someone who believed that the best way to resist Trump was to enable him, as a paid worker, to boot. People who appeared to be complicit and complacent suggest that they were actually pretty courageous, if only you knew what they could not tell you at the time.
Numerous presidential eyewitness accounts are colored by revisionism to facilitate redemption. The literary genre for Trump will need to sandblast the histories of these authors. But it will not be easy considering all those nondisclosures and shredded White House records. So get ready because every eyewitness to Trump has a story to sell and a craving to atone. With that spirit, I offer my entries of titles worthy of this library.
First is “The Sh-t We Stopped” by John Kelly and Mark Meadows. The two former White House chiefs of staff recount their heroic and rather stressful battles against the worst impulses of Trump.
Second is “Under the Bus and Back” by Steve Mnuchin. A dizzying account of the Treasury secretary about three months negotiating a coronavirus relief bill with Nancy Pelosi, only to have Trump lambast it after approving it, and then sign it after all.
Third is “The Invisible Man” by Ben Carson. The former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development reveals his strategies for not being fired or subject to poisonous tweets by the president.
Fourth is “Too Many To Count” by James Mattis, Patrick Shanahan, Mark Esper, Richard Spencer, and Christopher Miller. Six former secretaries and acting secretaries of the Defense Department recount their tales.
Fifth is “Is It Too Late To Say Sorry?” by William Barr. An account of his courageous struggle over two weeks to prevent abuses at the end of his reign as attorney general at the Justice Department.
Sixth is “Words In My Mouth” by Kayleigh McEnany. The White House press secretary argues that what you may have heard her say in the briefing room is not at all what she meant to say.
Seventh is “Tweets You Never Read” by Hope Hicks. A chilling account by the former White House communications director of the unsung hero of the intelligence community responsible for intercepting and deleting the most tweets by Trump that were most dangerous to national security.
Eighth is “The Almost Wars” by Mike Pompeo. The secretary of the State Department pays homage to himself for stopping the president from declaring war on Iran, China, Venezuela, and Greenland.
Ninth is “Never Saw That Coming” by Mitch McConnell. The Senate majority leader gives a look at his diary covering the last four years.
Tenth is “Sawed Off At The Limb” by Jeff Sessions. The former attorney general shares stories from his on and off relationship with Trump.
Steve Israel represented New York in the House over eight terms and was chairman with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can follow his updates @RepSteveIsrael.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.