Trump’s Staff’s Books Provide Insight Before Election


Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the latest staff member of President Trump to write a book. (Courtesy of Twitter)

During the Trump presidency, it has been incredibly difficult to keep up with who has held what position, with senior staff either being fired or resigning at an unprecedented rate. In fact, according to the Brookings Institute, the Trump administration has had the highest turnover rate of “A-team” staff (high-level decision-makers) of any presidency in history, with 91% of positions being replaced at least once. For reference, the Obama presidency only had a 71% turnover rate. Given the Trump presidency’s highly controversial nature, many former Trump staff members wrote books about their experiences. However, can we believe the authors’ claims, be they positive or negative for the president? 

On Sept. 8, former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released her memoir titled, “Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House,” the latest in a slew of books published about the president ahead of the upcoming general election on Nov.3. As the title makes clear, Sanders is a staunch supporter of the president and said in a recent Good Morning America interview that she “love[s] fighting for him from this side.” The memoir reflects on Sanders’ young life and her time in the White House, where she was the first-ever mother to hold the press secretary position and was a close confidant to the president. As Sanders said in the GMA interview, the book “shows a different side of the president than the news media will show you.” Statements such as these have been commonplace during the Trump presidency, as he has called news outlets that report unfavorably of him “fake news” on countless occasions.  

While Sanders claims that her memoir shows “a different side of the president” than we have seen before, certain stories that she tells seem to be the same horrifying behavior on display on the news or even in other books that have been critical of the president. For example, Sanders describes a plane ride back from North Korea during which President Trump joked that she should “take one for the team” after Kim Jong-un winked at her during a summit held by the two nations. She also tells of a family trip to the White House, during which the president dropped an “explosive f-bomb” in front of her daughter. Despite these stories, Sanders firmly supports the president and the work he has been doing in the Oval Office. She says that while he “isn’t perfect,” a second term for Trump would be much better for the country than a Biden presidency. 

Books such as “Speaking for Myself” raise an essential question for the general public: Should we believe everything we read in accounts of the Trump administration? Sanders would say no, calling other books false reports that were written by “disgruntled employees.” But why should we even believe Sanders? According to the New York Times, during her time as press secretary, she was often accused of stating exaggerations or falsehoods in the interest of protecting the president. Meanwhile, countless stories about the Trump administration continue to surface, painting the president, as his former lawyer Michael Cohen puts it, as “a mobster, plain and simple.” 

Cohen’s book “Disloyal” was released on the same day as “Speaking for Myself” and takes a very contrary position about the president’s nature to that of Sanders’ book. Cohen claims that the president routinely referred to Black leaders of foreign nations with racist insults. The Trump administration was quick to refute the numerous claims that Cohen makes in his book, with current Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany calling Cohen “a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer who lied to Congress.” 

Cohen pled guilty to a handful of financial crimes in 2018 related to the “hush-money” payments made to Stormy Daniels. Cohen writes that Trump loved Russian President Vladimir Putin for his ability “to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company.” This sentiment is especially alarming given that the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that “the Russian government directed extensive activity, beginning in at least 2014 and carrying into at least 2017, against U.S. election infrastructure at the state and local level.” “Disloyal” is not the only book critical of Trump to make recent headlines. Donald Trump’s niece Mary J. Trump, a clinical psychologist, recently released “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” a book that describes the Trump family and the environment in which Donald was raised: “Llying was OK — in fact, it was ‘a way of life’ … bullying was perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged.” Perhaps this family dynamic created the president who we currently have in the office —, the president who, according to legendary reporter Bob Woodward, was briefed about the Coronavirus on Jan. 28th. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien reportedly told Trump that COVID-19 would “be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.” Trump’s response to this, in his own words, was to “play it down.” 

The people writing books critical of the president are not simply disgruntled ex-employees. They range from Trump’s own family members to the reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal during the Nixon presidency. They are not looking for a paycheck; they are looking to tell the truth about the president of the United States. It may be the case that Sarah Huckabee Sanders believes President Trump to be a good man, but numerous other people have seen and heard things that they know to be wrong and are choosing to write about it. They are not writing about the president for their own personal gain, but because we have an election coming up and the American people deserve to be adequately informed.

Julian Shuttleworth, FCRH ’24, is a political science major from Columbus, Ohio.