Former President Donald Trump confided to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he needed to “act” tough on him for the benefit of TV cameras and refused to undergo anesthesia for a common medical procedure because he didn’t want to relinquish power temporarily to then-Vice President Mike Pence, according to a new book.
Those are some of the takeaways from former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, a longtime insider who also gives an unflattering portrait of former first lady Melania Trump.
In her book, titled “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” Ms. Grisham claims that Mr. Trump berated her frequently and even requested that an unnamed young, female press aide visit his cabin on Air Force One just so he could ogle her rear end.
She said Mr. Trump’s temper was “terrifying.”
“I should have spoken up more,” Ms. Grisham writes. “The truth was that pretty much everyone eventually wore out their welcome with the president. We were bottles of milk with expiration dates.”
The passages were reported by The Washington Post and The New York Times, which obtained advance copies of the book published by Harper Collins.
The Trumps slammed Ms. Grisham as a disloyal, dishonest former staffer seeking to cash in on her four-plus years working for them.
“Stephanie didn’t have what it takes and that was obvious from the beginning,” Mr. Trump said in a statement on Tuesday. “She had big problems and we felt that she should work out those problems for herself. Now, like everyone else, she gets paid by a radical left-leaning publisher to say bad and untrue things.”
Mrs. Trump’s office said the book “is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House.”
“Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump,” the statement said.
Ms. Grisham resigned on the day of the pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020.
The book title has been viewed with irony among the White House press corps because Ms. Grisham was known chiefly for never once holding a televised press briefing in nine months as the president’s spokesperson.
She explained her lack of access by saying Mr. Trump made unreasonable demands of her, including a request to reenact publicly an infamous call with the Ukrainian president that led to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.
“I knew that sooner or later the president would want me to tell the public something that was not true or that would make me sound like a lunatic,” Ms. Grisham wrote.
Much of what happened during Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Japan in 2019 isn’t known. But Ms. Grisham said she had a closer view than most.
“With all the talk of sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 election and for various human rights abuses, Trump told Putin, ‘Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave, we’ll talk. You understand,’” she wrote.
Fiona Hill, who was Mr. Trump’s top adviser on Russia and later became an impeachment witness, told Ms. Grisham that she believed Mr. Putin tried to throw off Mr. Trump in the meeting.
“As the meeting began, Fiona Hill leaned over and asked me if I had noticed Putin‘s translator, who was a very attractive brunette woman with long hair, a pretty face, and a wonderful figure,” Ms. Grisham wrote. “She proceeded to tell me that she suspected the woman had been selected by Putin specifically to distract our president.”
In 2019, Mr. Trump went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center without disclosing the reason for the visit. Ms. Grisham suggests it was for a colonoscopy, and that Mr. Trump didn’t disclose it because he didn’t want to be “the butt of a joke” on late-night TV.
She also said Mr. Trump didn’t receive anesthesia for the procedure because he was resistant to having Mr. Pence in power, even for a few hours.
Ms. Grisham, who served as chief of staff to Mrs. Trump, said she became “unleashed” after porn actress Stormy Daniels alleged a tryst with Mr. Trump. She said Mrs. Trump found ways to delete references to her husband in social media posts and fell asleep on election night in 2020.
In her book, Ms. Grisham also has harsh words for presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law. She said Mr. Kushner grew more powerful as Mr. Trump churned through White House chiefs of staff.
She called Mr. Kushner “Rasputin in a slim-fitting suit” and that staffers referred to Ms. Trump as a “princess” who inserted herself into meetings where she had no role.