Jun 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump works refs ahead of book barrage

Trump books

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Former President Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office, with authors lining up at Mar-a-Lago as he labors to shape a coming tsunami of Trump tomes, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Trump advisers see the coming book glut as proof that interest in "POTUS 45," as they call him, has never been higher. These advisers know that most of the books will paint a mixed picture, at best. But Trump is working the refs with charm, spin and dish.

Offering Diet Cokes and dressed in suit and tie, Trump spent an average of about 90 minutes with each of the authors, some of whom were invited to stay and eat dinner at Mar-a-Lago (although not with him).

  • The interviews are mostly on the record, for use when the books publish. So Trump, who has rarely been heard on non-Fox outlets since leaving office, will see himself quoted constantly over the next year.

Between the lines: Sources tell me Trump makes each author feel they're getting something special. And some of them are: Many of the nuggets will definitely make news. But there appears to be quite a bit of overlap in the "scoops" Trump is dishing out.

  • There's intense jockeying among the authors over several publishing-date logjams in the coming 18 months, with Michael Wolff's "Landslide" currently in pole position (July 27). The book many Trump insiders are awaiting most is Maggie Haberman's, due next year.

Jonathan Karl of ABC News — whose first Trump book, "Front Row at the Trump Show," was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback — spent five hours at Mar-a-Lago, including about 90 minutes on the record with Trump.

  • Karl, who has also interviewed numerous Trump Cabinet members, told me: "If you thought there was no more to know, it’s been mind-blowing."

More interviews are likely (including one with Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg), and several authors who've had one interview may get a second dip. Trump personally made all these decisions on who to see.

  • Five authors have gotten two interviews: Michael Wolff ... Maggie Haberman ... former Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway ... Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender, whose book is scheduled for Aug. 10 ... and The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, whose "Rigged" is due Sept. 21.
  • Trump has given one interview each to about a dozen other book projects (several with joint authors): WashPost's Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig ... Susan Glasser and Peter Baker ... Jon Karl ... Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns ... Ryan Lizza and Olivia Nuzzi ... Washington Examiner's David Drucker ... N.Y. Post's Miranda Devine — whose "Laptop from Hell," about Hunter Biden — is coming Sept. 7 ... N.Y. Times' Jeremy Peters ... Ari Fleischer — whose "Broken," about the press in the Trump era and beyond — will be out in 2022 ... Variety's Ramin Setoodeh, writing about "The Apprentice" ... and The Federalist's Ben Weingarten, writing on U.S.-China policy.
  • Trump said "no" to the book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The bottom line: No slowdown in sight for Trump headlines.

📚 What'd we miss? Drop me a line ([email protected]) with your book tip.

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