Jan 24, 2019

Cliff Sims dishes on Kellyanne Conway in "Team of Vipers"

Kellyanne Conway. Photo: Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vanity Fair's Hive last night posted one of the juiciest dishes in the sumptuous buffet that is "Team of Vipers" — the memoir by former White House aide Cliff Sims, which is out Tuesday but is already the subject of much West Wing gossip.

The backdrop: Sims writes about a day in May 2017, when "Morning Joe" accused White House counselor Kellyanne Conway of being disloyal to President Trump and he was called to her upstairs West Wing office to discuss a response.

I assumed this was because she feared Trump would believe the charges ... I had not brought my work laptop upstairs with me when she called, so Kellyanne pointed over to her personal MacBook sitting on the conference table on the other side of the room. “Just use that and type something up for me,” she said.
I sat down and started slowly pecking out a statement. ... I was also getting distracted by the nonstop stream of iMessages popping up on the screen. At that point, personal phones had not yet been banned in the West Wing, so Kellyanne was sitting at her desk texting away. And since her iMes­sage account was tied to both her phone and her laptop, ... I could inadvertently see every conversation she was having.
Over the course of 20 minutes or so, she was having simultaneous conversations with no fewer than a half­-dozen reporters, most of them from outlets the White House frequently trashed for publishing “fake news.”
Jour­nalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, and Bloomberg were all popping up on the screen. ... As I sat there trying to type, she bashed Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer, all by name.
("The real leakers, past and present, get much more positive press than I do. While it’s rare, I prefer to knife people from the front, so they see it coming," Conway said in a statement shortly after publication.) ...
She also recounted private conversations she’d had with the president, during which, at least in her telling, she’d convinced him to see things her way, which she said was a challenge when you’re deal­ing with someone so unpredictable and unrestrained. She wasn’t totally trashing the president, ... but she definitely wasn’t painting him in the most favorable light. She was talking about him like a child she had to set straight. ...
I was supposed to be writing a statement, defending her against accusations that she had done almost exactly what I was watch­ing her do that very moment.

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