Trump still believed he had foreign policy powers after leaving White House, author claims

Ramin Setoodeh says former president ‘deflated, conflicted and angry’ during post-presidency interviews and told him at one point he ‘needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan’

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 19 June 2024 19:49 BST
Comments
Author shares chilling anecdote after interviewing Trump

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The author of a new book about Donald Trump’s background in reality television has recounted a disturbing anecdote alleging that the former president still believed he had foreign policy powers long after he had left the White House.

Interviewed by Kaitlan Collins on CNN’s The Source on Tuesday evening, Ramin Setoodeh, the co-editor-in-chief of Variety, was asked to sum up the six interviews he conducted with the Republican at Trump Tower in New York while researching his book Apprentice in Wonderland in the aftermath of Trump’s accrimonious departure from Washington DC.

“He was very deflated, he was conflicted, he was angry about the way in which the press had treated him,” Setoodeh answered.

“He still believed that he won the election and he was happiest when he talked to me about hosting The Apprentice. It was the thing that brought him the most joy. We watched clips of the show together, we watched the theme song and he really lit up. We watched the firing of Omarosa [Manigault Newman].

“And then we would talk about what he did at the White House and he would become gloomy and resentful and unhappy and refer to Afghanistan and Joe Biden but he also seemed to think he still had some foreign policy powers and there was one day where he told me he needed to go upstairs to deal with Afghanistan.”

Stunned, Collins asked Setoodeh to confirm what he had just said and was left briefly speechless before calling the story “remarkable”.

Steven Cheung, Trump’s 2024 communications director, has since told The Independent: “After recognizing the importance of The Apprentice, its significant cultural impact on a global scale, and President Trump’s remarkable role in forever changing the landscape of entertainment, this ‘writer’ has now chosen to allow Trump Derangement Syndrome to rot his brain like so many other losers whose entire existence revolves around President Trump.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Collins asked Setoodeh whether his experiences were in line with CNBC presenter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s claim that Trump was “meandering, could not keep a straight thought, was all over the map” when he addressed the Business Roundtable gathering of CEOs in DC last week. The candidate has already disputed that characterization on Truth Social by quoting an article calling the line “a bunch of BS.”

“That report you just talked about — about ‘meandering’ and ‘confusing’ — is right,” Setoodeh said.

“He goes from one story to the next. He struggles with the chronology of events. He seems very upset that he wasn’t respected by certain celebrities in the White House. And then he’d go to a story about The Apprentice.

“So as you know, Kaitlan, it’s very challenging to interview Donald Trump and to go toe-to-toe with him but there were some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would — from time to time — become confused.”

Setoodeh also elaborated on his claim in the book that Trump insisted legendary comedian Joan Rivers had supported him in the 2016 election, despite the fact that she had passed away two years earlier.

The writer gave a similar interview to MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday in which he told the hosts he believed Trump had “severe memory issues.”

Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his latest campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin, on June 18 2024
Former US president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his latest campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin, on June 18 2024 (Reuters)

“Over the weekend, he was talking about how Joe Biden needs to take a cognitive test… Donald Trump had severe memory issues,” he said.

“As the journalist who spent the most time with him, I have to say, he couldn’t remember things. He couldn’t even remember me. We spent an hour together in May 2021, and then a few months later, I went back to Trump Tower to talk about his time in the White House. He had this vacant look and I said, ‘Do you remember me?’ He said, ‘No.’ He had no recollection of the lengthy interview that we had and he wasn’t doing a lot of interviews at that time.

“The American public really needs to see this portrait of Donald Trump. This shows what he is really like and who he is and who he has always been.”

As the Republican strives to make the case for a second term in the White House this year, he has repeatedly insisted that President Biden is too old and cognitively impaired to remain commander-in-chief at 81, drawing attention to every supposed gaffe his rival makes.

However, Trump turned 78 himself on Friday and continues to make high-profile mistakes of his own in his public addresses, most recently misremembering the name of his former doctor and referring to Biden as “Joe Bride” during a garbled portion of his latest rally speech in Racine, Wisconsin, on Tuesday.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in