Yet another former aide to President Trump is in the news for writing a memoir about working in the White House. This time, it’s Cliff Sims, scribe of “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House.”
Yes, the book reportedly contains the kind of salacious behind-the-scenes details about Trump’s most controversial moments that have come to characterize this very specific genre. But Sims also presents himself as a supporter of the president and his politics and has spoken on his press tour about his own personal failings. “I was ruthless. I was a coward. I was self-serving. … Sometimes I didn’t speak up,” he told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert of his time as a staffer.
Sims doesn’t have the name recognition of other former staffers who have gone on to write books, such as Sean Spicer or Omarosa Manigault Newman. But after Tuesday morning, anyone who follows Trump on Twitter knows his name.
The president attacked Sims via his preferred platform as the author appeared on CNN, calling him “A low level staffer that I hardly knew.” According to Politico, Trump has asked aides: “Who is this guy? Why is he writing this book?”
The cover of the book shows Trump and Sims walking side by side outside the White House.
Who is Cliff Sims?
Sims was a communications staffer at the White House and worked on “creating the talking points and messaging that comes out of the White House,” he told Colbert, “on anything from — probably the best example would be tax reform: ‘So how are we going to go out and sell the president’s tax-reform plan to the nation?’ I was kind of part of leading the team that did that.”
Sims also told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he would sometimes make videos with the president.
Sims started out in Alabama politics and founded a state politics site called Yellowhammer News before eventually becoming a communications staffer for the final months of Trump’s presidential campaign. He told an ABC affiliate in Birmingham that he got the campaign position through connections with Jeff Sessions when he was still a U.S. senator and that he focused much of his attention on the campaign’s social media strategy.
Though Trump called his former aide a “gofer,” judging from Sims’s social media presence, it appears he occasionally had access to the president.
Trump makes frequent appearances on Sims’s Instagram account, including in a video of him surprising a group of schoolchildren:
Here he is in a classic Oval Office shot:
And here is a behind-the-scenes video of Trump’s election-night festivities. “It’s one of the few moments during the campaign where I kind of stepped back and pinched myself a little bit and realized we’re at the center of history taking place,” Sims told Birmingham’s ABC 33/40. “I stood right next to him for pretty much the whole election night.”
Why are we talking about Cliff Sims?
Sims has had an eventful book tour. During his appearance on “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski asked him about comments Trump had made about her “bleeding from a face-lift.” On ABC’s “The View,” audience members booed when he said he still thought the president was fit to serve. And after Sims appeared on CNN’s “New Day,” the chief operating officer of the president’s reelection campaign said it was preparing a lawsuit against him.
Several staffers have reportedly signed nondisclosure agreements, and Sims told CNN that he wasn’t sure whether he had signed one. “I remember signing some paperwork,” he said. “I don’t remember what it was.”
Who is the real Cliff Sims?
“My identity is not wrapped up in being a Trump staffer,” he told CNN. “My identity is wrapped up in who I am in my faith — those are things that matter to me. I know who Jesus says I am — don’t matter to me what Donald Trump or anyone else says that I am.”
With “Team of Vipers,” however, Sims seems to have tied himself to the president for the foreseeable future.
correction: An earlier version of this post described Michael Glassner as CEO of the Trump campaign. He is chief operating officer.