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Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House

a book by Cliff Sims

(our site's book review)

Sims’s Vivid Portrait of Trump Shrewdly Balances Admiration with Misgivings

The Amazon blurb says that THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Sims’s vivid portrait of Trump shrewdly balances admiration with misgivings, and his intricate, engrossing accounts of White House vendettas and power plays have a good mix of immersion and perspective. The result is one of the best of the recent flood of Trump tell-alls."—Publishers Weekly

The first honest insider’s account of the Trump administration.

After standing at Donald Trump’s side on Election Night, Cliff Sims joined him in the West Wing as Special Assistant to the President and Director of White House Message Strategy.

He soon found himself pulled into the President’s inner circle as a confidante, an errand boy, an advisor, a punching bag, and a friend. Sometimes all in the same conversation.

As a result, Sims gained unprecedented access to the President, sitting in on private meetings with key Congressional officials, world leaders, and top White House advisors. He saw how Trump handled the challenges of the office, and he learned from Trump himself how he saw the world.

Trump's Team of Vipers (As former Clinton adviser William Galston once noted, 'every President gets the White House he deserves.')
Trump's Team of Vipers (As former Clinton adviser William Galston once noted, 'every President gets the White House he deserves.')

Sims Helped Trump Craft His Enemies List

For five hundred days, Sims also witnessed first-hand the infighting and leaking, the anger, joy, and recriminations. He had a role in some of the President’s biggest successes, and he shared the blame for some of his administration’s worst disasters. He gained key, often surprising insights into the players of the Trump West Wing, from Jared Kushner and John Kelly to Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

He even helped Trump craft his enemies list, knowing who was loyal and who was not.

And he took notes. Hundreds of pages of notes. In real-time.

Sims stood with the President in the eye of the storm raging around him, and now he tells the story that no one else has written—because no one else could. The story of what it was really like in the West Wing as a member of the President’s team. The story of power and palace intrigue, backstabbing and bold victories, as well as painful moral compromises, occasionally with himself.

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House tells the full story, as only a true insider could.

"Sims’ book makes much of infighting among White House staff. “The whole thing felt like Game of Thrones, but with the characters from Veep,” writes Sims"—Axios

"What is most memorable about Team of Vipers is the joylessness of working for this president and the acrid aftertaste it leaves."—The Guardian


Sims Sees Kellyanne Conway as the Leaker Queen

News Alert: Trump White House leaker found! Film at 11:00
News Alert: Trump White House leaker found! Film at 11:00

"Donald Trump wrote 'naughty and nice' lists to help him find out which members of White House staff were leaking to the press, Axios reports. Cliff Sims, a former White House communications aide who reportedly won Trump’s trust, says the president summoned him into a private study in the White House to help him get to the bottom of the constant leaks that were plaguing the administration in 2017." (Source: Trump Wrote ‘Naughty and Nice’ Lists of Staff to Find White House Leakers, Daily Beast)

Donald Trump wrote 'naughty and nice' lists to help him find out which members of White House staff were leaking to the press, Axios reports
Donald Trump wrote 'naughty and nice' lists to help him find out which members of White House staff were leaking to the press, Axios reports

"As I [Cliff Sims] sat there trying to type, she [Kellyanne Conway] 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,” [Kellyanne] Conway said in a statement shortly after publication. According to a source familiar with the situation, the statement was drafted in consultation with her husband, George Conway. Subsequently, George Conway has denied involvement with the statement on Twitter." (Source: “She Was a Cartoon Villain Brought to Life”: A Former Trump Aide Recalls Conway’s Leaking Tactics in the West Wing Viper’s Nest, Cliff Sims, Vanity Fair)

Kellyanne Conway - Caricature (32764762586)
Kellyanne Conway cartoon—“She Was a Cartoon Villain Brought to Life”

"But like other accounts of the Trump White House written by former staff members or journalists, the narrative and anecdotes support much of the real-time reporting about the administration. Mr. Sims also writes that leaks by various staff members have been in service of creating specific portraits of events or undermining rivals. They have not always portrayed the full truth, he suggests."—The New York Times

"Sims, who enjoyed uncommon personal access to Trump, recounts expletive-filled scenes of chaos, dysfunction and duplicity among the president, his family members and administration officials. Unlike memoirs of other Trump officials, Sims’s book is neither a sycophantic portrayal of the president nor a blistering account written to settle scores."—The Washington Post

“Some lively writing, but also has some extraordinary exchanges.”—John Dickerson, Slate Political Gabfest


If Sims Was Only a Gofer, Like Trump Says, How Could He Have Been Trusted with Creating an Enemies List?

Donald Trump has labelled Sims' sensational tell-all book as 'boring,' saying he 'hardly knew' the former staffer who wrote it, labelling him 'nothing more than a gofer'; here Sims and another gopher do hip-hop dancing
Donald Trump has labelled Sims' sensational tell-all book as 'boring,' saying he 'hardly knew' the former staffer who wrote it, labelling him 'nothing more than a gofer'; here Sims and another gopher do hip-hop dancing

US President Donald Trump has tweeted his anger at a new book by former a former White House communications aide, calling it “boring” and written by a mere “gofer”. Cliff Sims’ book Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House portrays a White House staff under Mr Trump that was “absolutely out of control” at times and often at each other’s throats. Mr Trump’s response however was to distance himself from Sims. Tweets Trump: "A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!" (Source: Donald Trump slams Cliff Sims book Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, News Corp Australia Network)

Cliff Sims considers himself a fly on the wall in the White House Oval Office for 500 days; he would do well to recall what substance flies are attracted to
Cliff Sims considers himself a fly on the wall in the White House Oval Office for 500 days; he would do well to recall what substance flies are attracted to

Sims Sees No Racism in Trump—Most People Disagree

In reference to Charlottesville in 2017, "When Trump says something like, 'There's good people on both sides,' it's a very provocative thing. For me, what I heard him say was, 'There are good people who say we shouldn't have monuments to slavery.' There are also people who say, 'I think we should keep those monuments because I don't agree with slavery and I think racism is evil, but that's part of our history. And we should remember even the bad parts of our history, whichever side you're on, you can be a good person.'" (Source: Q&A WITH CLIFF SIMS: Ex-White House aide explains his role in crafting Trump’s ‘enemies list’ and why the president is actually a great boss, Anthony L. Fisher, Business Insider)

White supremacists clash with police (36421659232)
Charlottesville riots

Sims Says "I’m Proud That the President I Served Was Donald Trump"

Cliff Sims was the CEO of Yellowhammer Multimedia, Alabama’s premiere source for political news, until he joined the Trump campaign in August 2016. After the election, he moved from Trump Tower to the West Wing, where he crafted the White House’s messaging. He now advises major corporations, CEOs and media personalities on a wide range of public affairs and communications issues. He lives with his wife and dog in Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump (25953705015)
Trump Wears a Make America Great Again Hat

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House would resonate best with MAGA devotees and also Trumpist conservatives. Sims is a hard-core evangelical Christian preacher's son and is one of these guys who is going to be a Trump fan forever. Trump is seen in a favorable light but the book describes an amoral, chaotic, paranoid, and back-biting administration in the White House—with not a single honorable or sympathetic character among them. If you’re looking for dirt on some key players in the Trump Administration, this is a fair place to start. Sims' epilogue ends: "I’m proud that the president I served was Donald Trump." We see Sims as a brown-noser opportunist out to achieve a political position or punditry position, or just to sell a book, so he threw together a tell-all tome exploiting the current popularity of Trump books. But that's just our opinion.

Leave it to a hard-core evangelical Christian preacher's son to have a father fixation for Trump, kissing Trump's butt over and over on paper
Leave it to a hard-core evangelical Christian preacher's son to have a father fixation for Trump, kissing Trump's butt over and over on paper

Sims says, “Lincoln famously had his Team of Rivals. Trump had his Team of Vipers. We served. We fought. We brought our egos. We brought our personal agendas and vendettas. We were ruthless. And some of us, I assume, were good people.”

Reading this book is like watching a train wreck: you want to look away but just can’t
Reading this book is like watching a train wreck: you want to look away but just can’t

Reading this book is like watching a train wreck: you want to look away but you just can’t. The man-boy narcissist Trump, who runs this nation like another of his failed family enterprises, sent nasty tweets to Sims once he saw the guy wasn't loyal to his administration.


Trump Sent Nasty Tweets to Sims Once He Saw the Guy Wasn't Loyal to His Administration

Man-boy narcissist Trump, who runs this nation like another of his failed family enterprises, sent nasty tweets to Sims once he saw the guy wasn't loyal to his administration
Man-boy narcissist Trump, who runs this nation like another of his failed family enterprises, sent nasty tweets to Sims once he saw the guy wasn't loyal to his administration

The Trump campaign filed an arbitration claim against Sims last week, accusing him of violating his nondisclosure agreement, so: "Cliff Sims, the former White House communications aide who wrote an insider account of life working for President Trump, is suing the president in his official capacity, alleging that he used his campaign organization as a 'cutout' to improperly seek retribution against former employees and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights. . . . [the suit alleges] the federal government has 'infringed upon Mr. Sims’s First Amendment rights as a former federal employee and acted contrary to the interests of public policy.'" (Source: Cliff Sims, White House Tell-All Author, Sues Trump for Going After Him Over Book, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, NY Times)

Sims was interviewed on TV (e.g., Stephen Colbert) a couple of times, and both interviews hinted that the reason he worked in the White House was to write a tell-all book.


Better Trump Books

This book is not recommended. There are other books that have been written regarding Trump that have lots better substance and are more engaging to read: