Trump told King of Jordan he would give him the West Bank, shocking Abdullah II, book says

President Trump once offered what he considered “a lot” to King Abdullah II of Jordan: control of the West Bank, whose Palestinian population had long sought to overthrow the monarchy.

“I thought I was having a heart attack,” Abdullah II reminded an American friend in 2018, according to a new book on the Trump presidency to be released next week. “I couldn’t breathe. I was doubled over.

The unreported offer to Abdullah is among startling new details about Trump’s chaotic presidency in the book “The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021” by Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, and staff member Susan Glasser. writer for the New Yorker.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the latest in a long line of deeply reported behind-the-scenes stories featuring or written by Trump administration insiders, some claiming they tried to curb the 45th president’s worst instincts.

Baker and Glasser write that their book is based on reports they did for their respective outlets, “as well as approximately 300 original interviews conducted exclusively for this book”. They added, “We obtained diaries, memos, contemporaneous notes, emails, text messages and other documents that shed new light on Trump’s tenure.”

The husband-and-wife reporters also conducted two interviews with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

A theme that emerges in the book is Trump’s growing fixation on attacking his perceived enemies and a growing concern among senior officials in his administration that they must prevent Trump’s anarchy and erratic demands.

Several senior officials “were on the verge of resigning en masse”, according to the book, citing an October 2018 message that then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote to a senior official via the encrypted Signal app.

Chief of Staff John F. Kelly; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; education secretary Betsy DeVos; and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “all” wanted to quit, Nielsen wrote, according to the book.

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At the time, Trump was worried about losing control of Congress and eager to appeal to his base of supporters. Fox News was drawing attention to a caravan of migrants crossing from Central America to the southern border – calling it an “invasion”, the book notes. Trump, in response, urged Nielsen to “harden the border to the point of even pushing it to take actions it had no authority to take,” according to the book.

Nielsen and Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, even agreed that they would both resign in protest if Trump resumed family separations on the southern border. In the fall of 2018, she wrote to an aide, “The madness has been unleashed.”

These officials eventually left the administration, but not in unison on a single issue.

“The people who feared his rule most were those in the room with him,” Baker and Glasser write.

In November 2018, Democrats took power in the House, winning a majority.

While in the White House, Trump also tried to use his office to punish – demands that his own aides deemed illegal and tried to stop, according to the book.

Trump not only tried to block a merger between CNN’s parent company Time Warner and telecommunications giant AT&T, prompted by his anger over the network’s coverage of him, but also tried to prevent a government contract is awarded to a company owned by Jeff Bezos. , the founder of Amazon. (Bezos owns the Washington Post). “He would do anything to get Bezos,” a senior Trump official told the book’s authors.

Trump has also targeted former intelligence officials James R. Clapper Jr. and John Brennan, demanding more than 50 times that they be stripped of their security clearances. And when the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit blocked one of his policies, Trump told Nielsen he wanted to eliminate the court altogether. “Let’s just cancel it,” he told her, according to the book, adding that they should “get rid of” the judges and using profanity.

Trump ordered that the legislation be drafted and sent to Congress as soon as possible, the authors write. Nielsen, according to the book, “did what she and so many other administration officials did when Trump made insane demands — ignored it and hoped it would go away.”

Trump, who is eyeing another presidential run, also ruled out picking his former Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate, telling Baker and Glasser, “That would be totally inappropriate.

Pence’s refusal to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, despite Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged, opened a rift between the two men. Trump, seething with what he saw as a betrayal of Pence, told the authors, “Mike committed political suicide by not taking votes he knew were wrong.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump crowd stormed the Capitol to stop the electoral vote count for Biden, several of the president’s supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”

The book also quotes Trump’s wife, Melania, expressing deep concern about her husband’s handling of the coronavirus. She spoke directly to Trump early in the pandemic and, according to the book, later recounted that conversation to Gov. Chris Christie (RN.J.), whom the president had regularly sought advice from.

“You blow this up,” she recalled telling her husband, according to the book. “This is serious. This is going to be really bad, and you have to take it more seriously than you take it,” she said, according to Baker and Glasser. Trump “just fired her,” they wrote. “You worry too much,” Melania Trump recalled telling her, according to the book.

The offer to Abdullah from the West Bank – which is bordered by Israel and Jordan, and over which Trump had no control – came in January 2018. Trump thought he would be doing the Jordanian king a favor, not realizing that it would destabilize his country. , according to the book.

An earlier excerpt from the book published in August in The New Yorker described how Trump once told a senior adviser that he wanted “totally loyal” generals like those who had served Adolf Hitler – unaware that some of Hitler’s generals had attempted to assassinate the Nazi leader several times.

Trump complained to Kelly, then his chief of staff and retired Marine Corps general, “why can’t you be like the German generals?” When Kelly asked which generals he was talking about, Trump replied, “German generals in World War II.

“You know they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost succeeded?” Kelly said, according to the book.

Trump didn’t believe him, the book says. “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” Trump insisted.