I’ve Served My Time in Hell
By John F. Kelly
This memoir by Trump’s resigned White House chief of staff takes its title from the Vietnam-era GI mantra: ‘When I die, I’m going straight to heaven because I’ve served my time in hell.’ The former Marine Corps general likens his tenure at the White House to ‘simultaneous waterboarding and colonoscopy.’ At one point he was so depressed that he tried to hang himself from a chandelier in the East Room, but was interrupted by a tour group. He chafes at criticism that he failed to moderate Trump’s wilder impulses. He says he talked the President out of ordering the Air Force to strafe the migrant convoy making its way through Mexico to the US border, and blocked a Jared Kushner scheme to get the Interior Department to purchase his family’s troubled 666 Fifth Avenue flagship property. After leaving the White House, Kelly was diagnosed with PTSD, but says he’s doing better, ‘Thanks to the love and support of my family, the excellent psychiatric staff at Walter Reed hospital, and high-level doses of Xanax and Fentanyl.’
I’ve Been Asked To Leave Better Places Than This
By Sarah Huckabee Sanders
The title of Trump’s press secretary’s book refers to incident in which she and her family were asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia because the proprietress could not stomach serving someone who worked for an ‘inhumane and unethical administration.’ Sanders acquiesced rather politely under the circumstances. Taking her cue from the proverb that revenge is a dish best served cold, she convened the members of her coven ‘my Wicca posse’) and sacrificed a raccoon to the Horned God of the Forest, imploring him to smite the restaurant’s romaine lettuce with e.coli bacteria. (Alas, Cernunnos failed to deliver.) If the overall tone is a bit sour, at times quite bitter, Sanders also has a demure, girlish side, as when he says she ‘about fainted’ when singer-gun activist-Trump supporter Ted Nugent, (he made news by calling Obama ‘a subhuman mongrel’ and Hillary Clinton ‘a toxic cunt’) told Sanders that he has a tattoo of her in ‘a special place.’ Don’t ask.
By Jean Moulin
Some half dozen former Trump administration officials have published memoirs in which they claim to have been part of the so-called ‘Resistance,’ furtively thwarting presidential directives and policies that they deemed wrong-headed or downright dangerous. Moulin’s account of his efforts to sabotage the Trump White House feels authentic, though it’s difficult to validate all his claims. As the head of Trump’s Economic Council, Gary Cohn may have snatched an executive order off the President’s desk, but Moulin was in the trenches getting his hands dirty. We see him mining the golf course at Mar-a-Lago, filing contradictory flight plans for Air Force One, and at one point, lacing the President’s Big Macs with laxatives to prevent him from attending a NATO summit at which he planned to announce the US withdrawal from the organization. Moulin says he infiltrated the White House mail room to forge a ‘steamy love letter’ to Trump from Kim Jong-un – he dribbled kimchi juice on the letter ‘for verisimilitude’ – that persuaded Trump not to launch a nuclear strike on Pyongyang. If Moulin, who now runs the Canard a L’Orange restaurant in Maryland (his Resistance codename was ‘Orange Duck’) accomplished half of what he claims, the nation owes him a heartfelt ‘Merci!’
By Sean Hannity
Shadow President seems a stretch, but then Hannity has never been a shrinking violet. The Fox ‘News’ anchor was never officially a member of the Trump administration, but he might as well have been. Everyone at the White House referred to him as ‘shadow chief of staff.’ He tells us his phone rang every night, seconds after his show finished airing, with Trump on the line ‘telling me how amazing I was. On days – and there were many – when I was especially amazing, he’d say, “Sean, you’re incredible! Unbelievable!”’ Hannity writes, unaware of – or oblivious to – possible sly presidential double meaning. He takes credit for getting actual chief of staff John F. Kelly sacked, ‘much as I esteem people in the military.’ He’ll also accept a pat on the back for, among other things, ‘persuading the President that coal is the answer to America’s 21st century energy needs;’ and record low unemployment, though he’d ‘like all liberals and other vermin to be permanently unemployed.’ He advised Trump not to shake Angela Merkel’s hand during their Oval Office meeting, on the grounds that she’d had shaken the hands of one million Syrian refugees and ‘hadn’t washed.’ He also convinced the President that Jamal Khashoggi strangled and dismembered himself at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as part of a fiendish, elaborate plot ‘to make Jared look bad.’
Recuse My Dust
By Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III
‘What in the name of holy heck was I thinking?’ Trump’s former Attorney General asks rhetorically at the outset of his memoir of his gehenna. Sessions was the first US Senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy. He now attributes this ‘calamitous lapse of judgment’ to a neurological episode resulting from a fall he took a week earlier while hanging a portrait of Harriet Tubman in the front hall of his home in Mobile, Alabama. He says he bears ‘no ill will’ toward the President for addressing him during cabinet meetings as ‘Mr Magoo,’ ‘Goober,’ ‘Barney Fife,’ and ‘Bedpan’ among other epithets. The highly documented chapters on Trump’s financial ties to various Russian oligarchs, New York’s Gambino crime family and SMERSH make for lively reading.
With My Head Up Your Butt
By Lindsey Graham
Credit US Senator Lindsey Graham for the self-aware title. The gentleman from South Carolina is not entirely without sense of humor about his political adaptability. When the Republican Party nominated Trump as its candidate, Graham declared on TV with chipmunk fury that his party had ‘gone batshit.’ Over the following months, he called Trump variously a ‘kook,’ ‘bigot,’ ‘not fit to be president,’ ‘racist,’ ‘xenophobic,’ and ‘the world’s biggest jackass.’ On one occasion he said, almost spraying the TV cameras with spittle, ‘You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell!’ That was then. ‘You know what drives me crazy about the American press?’ he says now. ‘This endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook!’ What – on earth – could make the media think that? When Trump announced that he had fallen ‘in love’ with North Korea’s dictator, Graham declared that Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. And then some.’ And then some? The Prix Goncourt? His powers of tergiversation have an almost magnificent quality. As for those who ‘don’t like me working with the President to make the world a better place,’ he has this to say: ‘I don’t give a shit.’ Noted. What’s more: ‘I intend to support him in 2020 without equivocation.’ At last Graham’s former hero, John McCain, whose valor his current hero so famously disparaged, isn’t around to read this book. And weep.