As former White House staffer Cliff Sims’ tell-all book makes a splash, Donald Trump is pretending Sims was a “low level staffer that I hardly knew” and that Team of Vipers is “yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction.” Trump’s campaign is vowing to sue Sims for violating his non-disclosure agreement, which suggests maybe they know the book isn’t so boring after all. And behind the scenes, Politico reports that Trump's response isn't boredom. Instead, he’s “very pissed off” and “really hopping mad,” sources say.
But while Trump is trying to downplay Sims’ former White House role, multiple sources say Sims had a real relationship with Trump. He was “with the president quite often alone,” according to one “current senior White House official,” and, according to a former administration official, “The president’s close relationship with Sims wasn’t a secret to anyone in the building.”
The official White House statement when Sims left is especially fun in retrospect. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time that “Cliff Sims was a valuable member of President Trump’s team on the campaign and for 15 months in the White House. I worked with him on both and he is talented, smart, and worked hard for the President. We hated to see him resign from the White House, but know he will continue to be a loyal supporter for the President and impactful for him in the future.” Soooo many ways that boilerplate highly positive statement has turned out to be wrong!
Trump has reportedly been urged not to lash out at Sims, with the message from aides being “It’s beneath you. You barely remember him. Go run the world.” But he doesn’t seem to understand that lashing out via saying “I barely remember him, he’s boring, we’re going to sue” manages to simultaneously look fake and defensive and draw attention to the book.