A new book by President Donald Trump ally Cliff Sims, a former campaign and senior West Wing official, recounts a scene in which he joined the president for a private one-on-one meeting where the two of them crafted a list of whom Trump could trust in the White House and whom he could not.
Leaks have plagued Trump’s administration, especially in its earliest days, and to get control of the situation and figure out who was working against him on the inside the president consulted Sims–who has since departed the White House–as to whom he could trust and whom he could not.
“President Trump was frustrated about leaks — specifically leaks attributed to “White House officials” — that were critical of him,” Axios’s Mike Allen wrote on Friday morning, explaining the backdrop of the scene from Sims’ new book, which will come out soon, Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. Allen wrote:
Cliff Sims, a young White House communications aide who had bonded with Trump during the campaign, slipped through the private dining room and was ushered into the private study, just off the Oval Offic. As recounted in Sims’ memoir — ‘Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House,” out Jan. 29 from Thomas Dunne Books — the minister’s son from Alabama was soon sitting face to face with the man he still referred to as “DJT,” in leftover campaign lingo.
The 2017 meeting came after a phone call the previous evening between the leader of the free world and the then-33-year-old Sims, and sought the meeting with the young aide privately without tipping off other staffers.
“Trump wanted to know who Sims thought was leaking, and said to come see him — but to come through the back, so the senior staff wouldn’t know,” Allen wrote.
Allen’s piece then includes an excerpt from Sims’ forthcoming book, explaining the secret conversation:
“Give me their names,” he said, his eyes narrowing. “I want these people out of here. I’m going to take care of this. We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders.”
Only in retrospect did I see how remarkable this was. I was sitting there with the President of the United States basically compiling an enemies list — but these enemies were within his own administration. If it had been a horror movie, this would have been the moment when everyone suddenly realizes the call is coming from inside the house.
The President proceeded to name White House staffer after White House staffer. Almost no one was deemed beyond reproach—not his chief of staff, not senior aides, almost no one other than those with whom he shared a last name. He wanted me to help him judge their loyalty. How, I wondered, had it come to this?
Trump made two lists, written in sharpie marker on “stiff cards” bearing the White House emblem.
“One list was people he could trust. The other was people he couldn’t, and wanted to let go,” Allen wrote. “The combined lists included about 15 people — 10 of them naughty, and five of them (all campaign alumni) nice.”
A source familiar with the content of both lists confirmed to Breitbart News that almost every person on the bad list, the one comprised of people the president could not trust, had been removed from the West Wing in the ensuing year-plus since the creation of these lists–though the source would not reveal at this time the actual names on either one.
While the West Wing, which houses approximately 50 or so of the senior-most White House staff, is mostly free of the scourge of leakers–termed “sleeper cells” by many of the president’s most loyal supporters–at this time, there are still officials throughout the government and even in the broader White House staff not loyal to the president and his agenda. Leakers and saboteurs of the Trump agenda include leftists who burrowed into the career bureaucratic ranks throughout government after being political appointees in the prior administration, some but certainly not all career officials throughout the 2.8 million strong federal government workforce, and perhaps most insidiously some political appointees that the Trump administration brought into senior positions.
Several high-ranking former campaign and administration officials have written books about their time with Trump, and several media figures have written their own accounts of the White House, but most of those accounts either lack the in-depth insider access that Sims had in the first year-plus of the Trump administration or were written and publicized from a vindictive point of view aimed at hurting the president. Unlike those accounts, Sims is clearly still loyal to the president and his agenda–and still trying to help President Trump root out problematic actors within his own ranks.