President Donald Trump reportedly flew into a rage during the 2016 campaign after his lengthy and rambling statement on birtherism was edited down to something more concise and coherent.
The Trump campaign wanted Trump to disavow the birther conspiracy theory that had launched him on his way to the Republican nomination, but he instead dictated a seven-minute diatribe via conference call against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to a new book excerpted by Vanity Fair.
"At first, the Republican presidential nominee was met with dead silence, with those on the line confused as to what the optimal response could possibly be," wrote the authors of the forthcoming book, Sinking In the Swamp. "Multiple advisers wanted to tell him that his dictated statement was far, far, far too long and would cause many more headaches for the campaign than it would resolve. If released, this would defeat the purpose of everything the campaign staff was trying to accomplish on this front. And yet, no one wanted to upset Trump, whose legendary hair-trigger temper could easily be set off by the slightest sign of perceived insolence."
Trusted campaign aide Hope Hicks gently tried to explain to Trump that the statement should be much shorter and less antagonistic, and the GOP candidate asked others on the line whether they agreed.
"No campaign official who chimed in sided with Trump," the authors wrote, "with each of them giving some pussyfooting version of 'this is insane, why would we do this?' adding a 'sir' or two to be safe."
Their comments were met with a brief but uncomfortable silence before Trump erupted.
"I want that statement!" the candidate bellowed. "Get me that f*cking statement!" I want that godd*mn f*cking statement right now! Where the f*ck is it?"
Trump hung up the phone and summoned his senior communications adviser Jason Miller, who somehow managed to get the former reality TV star to agree to release a brief statement -- but signed in his own name, not Trump's.
In exchange, Trump would be allowed to give his own statement himself during an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. -- where he eventually did briefly, and some believed insincerely, disavowed birtherism.
"In the moment, Trump was bitter and vexed, still itching to one day unleash his lengthy and unalloyed comment on his birther past and present," wrote authors Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng. "Yet barely 24 hours after showing so much fury and dejection, he had already started forgetting about it and soon moved on. He wasn’t pestering his staff about it, and he was back to his 'Crooked Hillary' and lock-her-up shtick."
"In this case, crisis was averted only because it slipped Trump’s elderly mind," they wrote. "And that was that: no batsh*t written statement."