‘You’re blowing this up’: New book reveals Melania Trump criticized her husband’s handling of Covid



CNN

Former President Donald Trump’s top general feared he would authorize a strike against Iran at the end of his presidency. His intelligence chief asked himself what Russia was up to. A billionaire friend convinced him to try to buy Greenland. Half a dozen senior officials considered resigning en masse.

Even his wife, first lady Melania Trump, “was stunned by the coronavirus and convinced Trump was screwing up,” according to a forthcoming book by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer and CNN global affairs analyst Susan. Glasser will be posted on Tuesday.

In a phone call with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has maintained ties to the White House despite occasional criticism of Trump, Melania Trump sought help in persuading her husband to take the pandemic more seriously.

“‘You’re blowing this,'” she recalled telling her husband,” the authors write. “‘This is serious. It’s going to be very bad, and you have to take it more seriously than you’re taking.’ He had just dismissed it. “You worry too much,” she recalled saying. ‘Forget it.’ ”

The instability that has clouded Trump’s four years in the White House has led many of his top advisers to worry about the country’s fate. The volatility is described in new detail in “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021.” The book’s reporting included two interviews with the former president at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Baker and Glasser write that many of the popular fears about Trump’s presidency were, in fact, closer to reality than previously reported, and they spread attempts to combat the disaster among those who worked for him.

The revelations could also foreshadow the presidency Trump could oversee if he returns to the White House in 2025. Trump associates have told CNN that he may announce a presidential bid after the midterm elections in November. But, Trump told Baker and Glasser, he will not invite former Vice President Mike Pence to join his ticket after Pence refused to interfere in the certification of the 2020 election.

“It would be completely inappropriate,” Trump said. “Mike committed suicide by not voting because he knew he was politically wrong.”

The book describes the deep concern of Trump’s national security team, led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and others, that the then-president would spark a conflict with Iran in the final days of his presidency or stumble on nuclear weapons. War with North Korea.

An administration official told Trump that if he lost before the 2020 election, he would have to target Iran’s nuclear program, the authors reported. “Milley said to his staff ‘What are these people talking about?’ moment,” they wrote. “Now, it seemed incredibly possible.”

Tensions with Iran also permeated the walls of Mar-a-Lago. Trump told guests at a 2020 holiday cocktail party that he would leave early to return to Washington out of fear that Iran might try to kill him in retaliation for the US killing of the country’s top general a year earlier.

Concerns about Trump’s behavior on the world stage began as soon as he took office. More than a passing flurry, Trump’s desire to pull the United States out of NATO was actually “much more serious than people thought,” a senior White House official said, and could dramatically change the outcome of the current war. in Ukraine

After his 2018 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump sided with Putin in the face of U.S. intelligence agencies’ determination that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election, leaving a U.S. intelligence official wondering what Trump’s real motives were.

“I could never come to a conclusion. It raised the question in everyone’s mind: what is it about Putin that makes him do something that undermines his credibility? Dan Coats, then-Director of National Intelligence, debriefed members afterward, according to the book.

And the months-long settlement to buy Greenland from Denmark was much deeper than previously revealed, inspired in the early days of Trump’s presidency by a wealthy New York friend, cosmetics heir Ron Lauder.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we have that?’ You look at a map. I’m a real estate developer, I look at a corner, I say, ‘I’ve got to get that store for the building I’m building,’ etc. It’s not that different,” Trump told reporters at his home. book.

Lauder suggested to Trump’s then-national security adviser John Bolton that he act as a “back channel” to the Danish government. Instead, top National Security Council aides spent months in secret talks with Denmark’s ambassador to the US about Greenland.

In the end, however, public revelations about Trump’s plans to buy the island sparked outrage in both Greenland and Denmark, thwarting efforts to enhance the US role in an increasingly strategic area. Trump called the Danish leader “evil” for rejecting his idea and canceled a trip to Copenhagen.

Trump had more cordial relations with other world leaders, but often imposed his own brand of chaos.

Baker and Glasser reported that Trump called Jordan’s King Abdullah II out of the blue to let him know he would “give you the West Bank,” telling a friend he thought the monarch had suffered a heart attack.

“I couldn’t breathe. I was bent over,” he said.

And Trump often liked to claim that then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – who was assassinated in July – nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, a request Trump specifically made to Abe at a dinner in New York.

“The president asked Abe at dinner to nominate him,” a senior Trump national security official says in the book.

Baker and Glasser describe unannounced plans by members of Trump’s Cabinet to resign en masse amid the chaos to remain in their posts, worried about who might replace them.

In encrypted text messages, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a top aide that five top Trump administration officials — including the secretaries of Defense, Education and the Interior — were on the verge of leaving amid a particularly chaotic run-up to 2018. middle school

“Okay, for the first time, I’m scared of the country. Madness has been unleashed,” he wrote in the messages.

Trump’s demands from his team included outlandish requests such as eliminating the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after it blocked one of his immigration policies.

“Let’s just call it quits,” he told Nielsen, according to the book. He told Nielsen that if such a movement required legislation, “then make a bill to ‘remove the judges’ and send it to Congress as soon as possible.”

When it came to responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it was his most trusted advisers who were encouraging him to do more, especially in the early days when Trump appeared calm about the severity of the crisis.