Former President Donald Trump summoned his wife to the Oval Office and berated her after she wore a jacket emblazoned with the words “I really don’t care, do you?” during a trip to a migrant housing facility in McAllen, Texas, according to a new book.
Stephanie Grisham, once the first lady’s top White House aide, writes that she did not notice the message on Ms Trump’s jacket as they headed to Texas for the ill-fated June 2018 trip that elicited an explosion of media coverage and online speculation over what statement Ms Trump was trying to make.
At the time, the Trump administration was facing severe criticism over its policy of separating migrant children from family members after their detention at the border. The first lady visited a site in McAllen in the hopes of softening the White House’s image on the issue, which eventually led to the Trump administration abandoning the programme.
But after returning, she adds, Ms Trump was summoned to the West Wing by her husband who yelled at her over the incident and resulting media coverage.
“He yelled and asked “what the [expletive]” they thought they were doing,” writes The Washington Post, which obtained an advance copy of the book.
At the same time, he came up with the idea of making the jacket a message to the news media, which he often complained were treating him unfairly; Ms Trump would go on to echo that claim in an October interview with ABC’s Tom Llamas.
“It's obvious I didn't wear the jacket for the children. I wore the jacket to go on the plane and off the plane. And it was for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticising me,” she claimed at the time.
Ms Grisham also adds in her book that the former first lady grew more publicly defiant of her husband after news of his alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels found its way into the press.
“This is Donald’s problem. He got himself into this mess. He can fix it by himself,” Ms Grisham wrote, describing her former boss’s thinking.
Ms Grisham was one of the longest-running aides in the Trump White House and originally served as a press aide on his 2016 presidential campaign. She later became White House press secretary, though never once held a public press conference with reporters. She resigned on 6 January 2020, after a mob stormed the US Capitol.
Despite having one of the longest tenures of any Trump aide, the former president nevertheless claimed that his former staffer “didn’t have what it takes and that was obvious from the beginning” in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday regarding claims in the book.
“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,” said the former president.
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