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Interview with Doug Wead Author of “Inside Trump’s White House”
Renowned presidential historian, New York Times bestselling author & former advisor to 2 American presidents, shares stories and insights from his latest book.
How did the book “Inside Trump’s White House” come about?
Well, I had met Ivanka Trump when Donald Trump became president. The BBC invited me in to be interviewed and wanted me to come into the studio in Washington D.C. for their early morning London telecast. That’s the middle of the night for us here in Washington DC. And they said, “Okay, so Donald Trump’s the president, and he’s appointed his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to work in the White House. And that’s never happened before. And you’re a presidential historian, how do you explain this?” And I said, “Well, first of all, it has happened before. Ivanka Trump is the 19th son or daughter of an American president to be appointed by the president to his White House staff. It’s happened all through history. The first President of the United States to have a son or a child was John Adams, and he appointed his son as his minister to Prussia. So, it’s very, very common.”
They were shocked. And they said, “Well, why would the President want to choose one of their own children?” I said, “Because the most important quality that the President will need (and he’ll soon find this out) is loyalty, and a child could give you loyalty.” Well, I thought I got up in the middle of the night and nobody will see this, but at least I’ll feel good correcting the record, but I was wrong. Ivanka Trump was watching and she sent me an email to thank me. I told Ivanka Trump, “You know, every president gets an official history. I want to write that history of the Trump White House.” And she took my memo down to the president and they said okay.
Of all the presidents in the United States, are there any like Trump? And if so, who is the most similar to him?
Well, there aren’t any quite like him who are totally non-politicians. But the closest to him is… in my opinion, is Andrew Jackson. I started sharing that from the beginning. Before Andrew Jackson, the first 6 presidents of the United States were of the upper class–the aristocracy of America. They either came from one family, John Adams or John Quincy Adams from Massachusetts, or the rest of them were Virginia tobacco planters who had slaves and who were extremely wealthy. In fact, George Washington was probably, if you adjusted money for inflation, the richest president in history until Donald Trump. So, the first 6 presidents all attended an Episcopalian church. Now, Adams I guess was congregationalist, they had some different views, but they all attended an Episcopal Church. Here came Andrew Jackson. He was from the west while they were all from the east coast. He was a Presbyterian, he was rough and profane. He had bullets in his body. He died with bullets in his body from duels from battles. Some of them had… the bullets came from misunderstandings and fights. He… he argued with his own senators. He argued with his own cabinet and fired so many of them that he started meeting with advisors in the White House secretly, and the room they met in was right near the kitchen. The newspapers started calling it the kitchen cabinet. Ever since then, every president always had kind of a kitchen cabinet of unofficial advisors. That started with Andrew Jackson, who in many ways, was outrageous. They said, “he’s not going to make it.” And he was against the elitists who were wanting to set up a second bank, a National Bank, and he felt it was serving just the richest. So, he upset the crony capitalism, drained the swamp of his day, and he’s as close as we could find someone who’s similar to Donald Trump.
There are rumors that President Trump never expected to win the presidency. He was actually shocked when he won the election. Is this true?
Doug: You know, there is… yes and no. No, in that he had to be emotionally prepared to win and to lose. On the night of the election, there were very different scenarios unfolding. He knew a few days before the election, when Hillary Clinton canceled her fireworks display, that it was possible he could win. The problem was his data, the data he was getting from Brad Parscale showed that he would win and showed about what actually happened. Brad Parscale had models that, for example, illustrated that people, they call them the bashful Trump voter. They ran tests of thousands of names, and they’d say, “Who do you support?” and they’d have an operator on the line interview people, “Who would you support for President?” and they would say who they’re going to vote for, who they’d support. Then they’d do the same thing and set it up electronically. So, there was no human voice, you could just punch buttons on the phone. There was difference of 17%. Seventeen percent of the people would refuse to identify as a Trump voter if the operator was a human voice because they were afraid of being ridiculed or attacked for what they believe. These were some of the models. There were other models Pascal had that showed many people would be voting for the first time in their life–they had never voted. They didn’t show up in any of the network polls because they weren’t on any lists. So, he had that.
But Trump also had insiders at ABC and other networks, even at Fox, that told him he was absolutely losing. There were also key precincts that would tell one way or the other. This information was coming to him the last few days of the campaign and then coming to him all night during the election. There’s one point in my book where he sits down with Brad Parscale and Brad says, “Sir, you are going to be President of the United States. It is going to happen.” And at one point, Donald Trump said, “You know, okay, you may be right. But if it’s not true and I’m not elected, it’s okay. It’s okay, Brad. You know, if we lose, I’m just going to go downstairs, go out on Fifth Avenue, hold a press conference, I’m going to say, ‘Hey, I tried my best. I’m a patriot. I love this country.’ And then tomorrow, I’m going to get on a plane and I’m going to go to Ireland and play golf. Don’t worry about it.” So, this was Trump in Trump Tower that night. It’s an interesting 2 chapters of the book to follow how they felt that night.
Can you tell us a story about the Trump kids that maybe no one in the media has shared yet?
The White House was just fascinating. They were exhausted from the swearing-in ceremony. The grandkids can hear the grandkids squealing and laughing and giggling as they scattered through the State floor, playing a game of hide ‘n go seek with Uncle Barron. Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron, was 10 years old when they first moved into the White House, and the grandkids just love him. They’re all seated around a long table, the adults in the State Dining Room. And Laura announces to everyone that she’s pregnant. There are delightful cheers, it’s such a peaceful moment. Baron comes running into the State Dining Room, “What… what… what… what… what’s going on?” He’s sweating. And they say, “Well, Laura’s going to have a baby,” he said, “Oh, okay,” and then he races back out of the room to assume his duties as referee for the grandkids. It seems like it’s a peaceful night and they’re thinking that it’s over. The nightmare is over, now the country is going to unite and we’ll get on with the business of trying to solve the country’s problems. But little did they know what lay in store for them.
They’re just so… so many, many stories. I had the first interview with Tiffany, the only interview Tiffany Trump’s given since her father was elected President. She’s just sharp as a tack. Tiffany is going to Georgetown Law School and is an absolute delight. She said that the night they went to Buckingham Palace with the whole family for the State Dinner with Queen Elizabeth, they… they didn’t have a carriage with 6 white horses, nor did they have a motorcade to take them there. So, they rented a bus van, the kind of bus that takes you to your Avis rental car at the airport. So, all the Trump kids in their tuxedos and their beautiful gowns piled into this van bus and said, “Take us to Buckingham Palace,” and that’s how they arrived.
Did you ask President Trump about his faith?
Doug: Yeah, we talked at length about his faith. It’s very prominent and very private. He’s got his own ideas. He was a devoted student of Norman Vincent Peale. He loved Norman Vincent Peale and he went to his church as a boy. His dad also loved Norman Vincent Peale, and they’d go to that church as a family. In fact, many people don’t know that he met his second wife, Marla Maples, at church. They assumed he was at a nightclub somewhere, but in fact, he doesn’t drink as you know. Norman Vincent Peale preached this positive message that had appealed to the stockbrokers and to the people in New York City.
Then there’s the Paula White story. I flew to Florida and conducted interviews. And the President wanted me to interview her. The White House sent me a list of the President’s closest friends and she was one of them. He’s puzzled by crying. He says, “I don’t get that crying thing.” He’d watched Jimmy Swaggart, he liked to watch Jimmy Swaggart early on in the 1980s, and his tearful love confession, that stumped Trump. He said, “I don’t get it. What’s the crying thing?”
How did President Trump meet Paula White? And how did her trust and their trust of her grow to this level?
Well, they met 19 years ago. He was watching television and flipping through the channels. For some time, he became a television viewer of Christian TV on Sunday mornings, because if he actually went to a church, he was a distraction since he was a celebrity. So, he saw Paula White on television and he called her and told her, “You’ve got it. You got the ‘it’ factor.” He liked what she was saying and had notes on her sermon. Paula said she has people come up and say, “I really enjoyed your sermon,” but never had people come up and give it back to her as he could.” So, he was really taking it in. He was spiritually hungry. And he trusted her. He felt she was not judgmental. He said to her, “You know, I’ve been married 3 times,” and she said, “Me too.” So, he was willing to listen to her and willing to hear her talk about the things of God that were important to him.
How does a Christian reconcile Trump the person with his policies?
It may be hard for other people, but it’s not hard for me. I have great love and appreciation for all people who are running for president. But when I heard common Kamala Harris recently say that Donald Trump should not be allowed to use Twitter, I’m thinking, “Hey, if the democrats win, Kamala Harris will be the Attorney General, and she doesn’t think that a man who was elected president with 63 million votes should be allowed on Twitter. We’re either going to have a constitutional republic or we’re not.” It looks like we’re headed towards a post-constitutional era, where rights and what we thought were God-given rights, that’s how we saw the Bill of Rights, that’s how we saw the Constitution, all of that’s being forfeited. Then we have national media stories–you can worry about cuss words or you can worry about pedophiles, which are covered up by the 3 major networks who refuse to run the stories. It’s tragic to see Christians censored on Facebook and YouTube, shadowbanned and throttled on all the devices that they use. It’s stunning. That’s not going to happen under Donald Trump, but it’s sure going to happen if he’s not there. And it’s getting pretty bad. When the media piles on Brett Kavanaugh for allegations that were made when he was in high school by people who have no corroboration whatsoever to their stories. Then it’s covered up when women come forward and tell of being raped when they were 14 years old and have pictures and videos and corroboration to their story, and the man who supposedly financed the doll ends up mysteriously committing suicide in prison, and all the networks covered up and none of them run the details of the story or show any of the pictures or any of the videos, my goodness, is that what we want? Are we ready to end free speech? Not me.
As an advisor, if you had the chance to give advice to President Trump right now with what he’s facing with the possible impeachment in the house, what advice would you give him?
I wouldn’t go there. If he had listened to my advice, he’d have never been elected President. If he listen to my advice, he’d have never run for President. And then when I wrote this book, and I learned how he dealt with ISIS and how he dealt with turning around the American economy, it was so counterintuitive how he got these hostages home. We had 16 years of Republican and Democratic presidents, it’s very logical their rationale. They said, “We’ve got to be quiet because if we talk about the hostages, it increases their value and it increases the number of Americans that will be seized as hostages. The only way we can get these hostages back home is if we keep this quiet.” And that morphed into real hostility towards the hostage families. Hostage families were threatened. “If you go to the networks with your story, we aren’t going to help you. You’re on your own. If you want the United States government to help you get your loved ones back, you keep your mouth shut and you keep quiet. This is done quietly. That’s the only way we’re going to do it.” And when Donald Trump got into the White House, he was horrified. He was horrified by what he found with NATO. He was horrified by what he found with NAFTA. He was horrified by the corruption of it. And, “No, we’re bringing these people home.” He’s brought 22 of these hostages home. He took Turkey to the brink of bankruptcy until they released the Christian Pastor Brunson, who I interviewed, by the way, for the book. He was willing to bankrupt the country if they wouldn’t let him go. They laughed at him when he first started the negotiations and said, “We will bring him home,” and… and they said, “No, you won’t.”
So, if he’d listened to my advice, he wouldn’t have done all of that. I remember when he shook up NATO and people were saying, “This is our oldest Alliance. This is ridiculous. What is he doing?” But he was saying, ‘No, they’re not our friends.”
“Yes, these are our friends, sir, our allies.”
“No, they’re not our friends if they signed an agreement, they said they’d pay, and they haven’t paid a dime. What kind of friend is that? What good is that?” And so, in spite of all the criticism, NATO came to the conclusion, “He’s right,” and now they’ve paid 100 billion dollars. Stop and think of that. He only needs 1.6 billion to finish his wall with Mexico. NATO has now chucked in 100 billion dollars. If the new President of the United States, if it’s Joe Biden, is he going to refund that? Are the networks all going to say, “Oh, President Biden is now refunding all of those… to Germany, to all of these rich countries, he’s giving back the money that Donald Trump took from them that they had promised that they would pay to be a part of the NATO treaty.” You can bet it won’t be refunded. What was accomplished was great. They wanted the American middle class to pay for their defense and to pay for cleaning up the environment, so they could spend money on education, on bridges, on high-speed railway transportation, on new highways. The American middle class has been burdened with cleaning up the pollution of the world and financing the defense of Japan and Germany and all of these countries. And Trump is saying, “No, you got to pay something.”
It was very funny when I interviewed him and we had lunch in the Oval Office. He got into impersonating Heads of State. So, he started impersonating King Salman of Saudi Arabia. And he said, “I said to the king, ‘Well, we’re giving you these missiles. These are billions of dollars in missiles, and you’re giving us nothing.’ And the king would say, ‘Yes, yes. Well, you have to pay.’
‘Yes, of course, we will pay.’
‘Well, why haven’t you paid?’
‘Well, nobody asked us. Nobody asked us.’
‘Nobody asked you? Well, I’m asking you.’
‘Yes. Yes. How much?’”
So, it’s very funny, but it’s also heartbreaking.
NAFTA is another example. You had all these Republicans saying, “Oh, he’s not for free trade. He’s ruining NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.” But did you know NAFTA is 17,000 pages? Now, you tell me, how many pages does it take to write out a free trade agreement? It doesn’t take 17,000. The Bible is 1000 pages. What that means is that nobody on Earth has ever read NAFTA. They’ve read their 5 pages or their 10 pages or the 20 pages that their industry or their company or their group of people, their trade organization is responsible for and cares about. But nobody’s read all of it. Trump found it to be an absolute mess so he tore it apart, renegotiated it, and now the Mexicans like it better, the Canadians like it better, and the Americans like it better. And if you think the new president is going to go back to NAFTA, they aren’t. Whoever it is, Democrat or Republican, they’re going to take what he accomplished, and move forward. The problem is a lot of the things he accomplished, they are going to go back on.
How do you think the Trump administration will get anything done the next 2 years or next year and a half?
Well, how did they do it before? I mean, before he was inaugurated, they were calling for his impeachment. Then they said he was a Russian spy. Now, stop and think about this for a minute. Russia, who has famously had an economy that’s not quite as large as the State of New York, managed to run a candidate for public President and get him elected, a Russian spy. Not only that, the New York Times ran an article with a guy claiming that Vladimir Putin was actually his handler, he was giving him the information on what to do. Now, if that’s true, that’s one of the greatest events in the history of the world. That ranks with landing man on the moon. That ranks with Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic. That ranks with the assassination of Julius Caesar. That is a stunning moment of history. But it’s not true. It’s ridiculous. It’s just some of us stupid people in the United States with CNN and the New York Times pushing this idea. Have they apologized for it? Have there been moments of self-examination? Have they stopped and said, “You know, we got kind of carried away. We said that they’d be indicted… said that Don Jr. would be indicted. We’re sorry. We got a little carried away,”? No, they just go on to the next one. You know, if they’d be a little more humble and maybe apologize for what they got wrong, I’d be more likely to listen to if they finally got something right. But I’m afraid what they’ve said and what they’ve done, these opponents of his, they’ve kind of inoculated him against believing any of their latest stuff.
What are your predictions for 2020? Who do you think is going to win the next election?
I don’t know. It’s really fascinating to me. If it turned out to be a surprise landslide victory for Trump, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he loses, given the fact that the whole national media has a vested interest in him losing, they’re going to make money if he loses, they want him to lose, they want globalism, they depend on China and money from China, the academics depend on money for China. Think of this. The only people that really pay for the full tuition at Harvard are people from China, and they limit how many of them can come. And they totally stop any scholarships because… so, China, you know, is the key to academia, and funds most… many of the motion pictures. All of the tech industry is in bed with China. The Chinese government uses Google and other tech companies to help round up Muslims and put them in concentration camps and keep the Falun Gong alive on artificial machines so they can harvest their organs. All of this is going on. When I ran Canyonville Christian Academy, we had families up there who were from China who were telling us the property was being confiscated, they were being identified through Google. It’s really like “1984.” It’s a very dangerous time.
How will President Trump be remembered?
That depends on what happens. If I asked Jared Kushner that question and about his legacy, and Jared had said, “You know, I think the time will come many years from now, when people are going to miss him. They’re going to miss his frankness, his complete honesty, his willingness to absolutely say what he’s thinking and not be so circumspect about it. And they’re going to… they’re going to be bumper stickers that will say, ‘Give us back Trump,’” That’s his prediction. His daughter in law, Laura said, “We hold the hope that when all of this is over and long after we’re gone, that we’ll be validated and vindicated for the stand that we’re taking.” So, we’ll see, as Donald Trump would say, that’s one of his cliché expressions, “We’ll see.”
How can we get a hold of your book, “Inside Trump’s White House?”
It’s a fun read. You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, and you’re going to be amazed at how interesting the truth is. You’ve read all these anonymous stories from sources that deny they said it. Now, you’ll be reading a book from people who let me tape record them and tape record the interviews.
Are you open to speaking at churches?
Absolutely, absolutely. Because I think more than ever, we need a message of hope. And God gives that, he gives us that hope that, in spite of the turmoil in the public square, the differences of opinion, I’m sensitive to the pain that people feel, God gives us hope. And it’s a great message.
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