Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s “insider account” of Donald Trump’s administration describes the president as "a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow" and reveals the central role played by the since-jailed campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The Guardian has obtained an early copy of The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President, published in the UK by Biteback, which is due to be released on 24th of July. In it, Spicer compares the work of a press secretary to that of a fighter jet pilot, champion boxer and tightrope artist, and contradicts claims made by both Trump himself and press briefings, that former campaign chairman Manafort was only a minor figure in the campaign.
Last year, Trump said Manafort had only been with the campaign for a “very short period of time”, and similarly Spicer’s own press statement said that Manafort had “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time”.
However, Spicer’s description in the book says Manafort had a central role in the campaign.
“Paul brought a much-needed maturity to the Trump campaign when it needed an experienced political professional operative more than anything else,” Spicer wrote of Manafort’s hiring in the spring of 2016. “There was no semblance of a campaign structure, just a few, distraught, overworked people constantly barking into their phones. Paul immediately set up and staffed the political and communications operations necessary to take on the Clinton machine.
Manafort resigned as Trump campaign chairman in August 2016 over controversy surrounding his links to Russia. He was jailed last month and is currently awaiting trial on charges of money laundering, tax fraud, failure to register as a foreign agent and obstruction of justice.
The book also takes the reader behind the scenes of the moment when Spicer attacked the press for downplaying the size of Trump’s inauguration day crowd. In a press briefing on his first day on the job, Spicer dismissed photographs that showed Barack Obama’s inauguration crowd as having been much bigger than Trump’s.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe,” Spicer had said at the time. In the book, he stands by this assertion arguing that there was an enormous international online streaming audience.
However, the book reveals that the president was not best pleased with his performanace at the press briefing.
"I went back to my office, expecting an ‘attaboy’ from the president; instead Reince was waiting for me and said the president wasn’t happy at all with how I had performed", he wrote. "He didn’t like my not taking questions. He thought I was hung up on the wrong issues. He wanted to know why I hadn’t run my statement by him. Minutes later, the president himself called, and he was not pleased. And I started to wonder if my first day would be my last... I had made a bad first impression, and looking back, that was the beginning of the end."
Describing his thoughts on Trump, Spicer writes in the book: “I don’t think we will ever again see a candidate like Donald Trump. His high-wire act is one that few could ever follow. He is a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow. His verbal bluntness involves risks that few candidates would dare take. His ability to pivot from a seemingly career-ending moment to a furious assault on his opponents is a talent few politicians can muster.”
Spicer left the White House after six months in the job when Trump brought in Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, a role the latter would occupy for only 10 days before being fired.