‘White House was a snake pit’: Lesson from ‘Confidence Man’ book

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Brian Hardzinski

President Donald Trump gestures a confident fist pump onstage at a campaign rally at the Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania, December 10, 2019. Photo by Shutterstock.

One of the most eagerly-anticipated books about former President Donald Trump’s White House has been released. It’s called “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” and is written by the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. She’s reported on Trump for decades, starting in the 1990s during her time at the New York Post. The book details how Trump flushed documents down White House toilets, wanted to rip open his shirt to reveal the “Superman” logo after his COVID hospitalization, and implied that his son-in-law Jared Kushner was lazy and only pretending to observe the Jewish Sabbath to avoid work.

“The White House was a snake pit.” That’s the lesson from reading Haberman’s book, says Lloyd Green, former Justice Department attorney and campaign operative for President George H.W. Bush, and current contributor to The Guardian. 

The other recently-published comprehensive book about the Trump presidency is “The Divider” by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. The chapters reveal that Trump admired Hitler’s generals, and that Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley almost resigned after protesters were tear-gassed and cleared out of Lafayette Square so Trump could pose for a photo op with a Bible. 

Green says the authors of these two books are coming from different places. 

“Maggie Haberman — this book is as comprehensive as anything else that's out there. Her story is also looking back at Trump from his growing up and his rise in Queens to Manhattan, and all the stops along the way. I think Baker and Glasser, they are more focused on Trump's time in the White House … [and] what comes next with the United States. So both of them are serious works. Both of them are definitely worth a read.”

What is the fascination that Trump holds? Why does there seem to be an endless interest in him? 

“America, in a sense, is going through a cold Civil War,” Green answers. “Trump has sussed it out. He has ridden it to the White House. He is divisive. He’s crude, he's vulgar, he's also fascinating. … There was that fascination going back to 2015-2016. He descends the escalator at Trump Tower, no one else has ever had an entrance like that. … [He] goes down an escalator, turns things into a circus, and has everyone watching. You just don't get campaign announcements like that.”

Green points out that now there’s impeachment and several federal investigations. “Name another former president who has that legacy.” 

He continues, “Because he left the White House under the circumstances in which he left the White House, his name sells when it comes to a book.”



  • Lloyd Green - former Justice Department attorney and campaign operative for President George H.W. Bush, contributor to The Guardian