Former President Donald Trump gushed about New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman while dishing out dirt on just about everyone for her new book.
"I love being with her, she's like my psychiatrist," Trump told two aides while sitting for one of three interviews for Haberman's new book "Confidence Man," according to an excerpt published by The Atlantic.
Haberman, a veteran New York reporter who has covered Trump for years, wrote extensively about Trump's time in the White House as well as his origins as a real estate developer.
"I have found myself on the receiving end of the two types of behavior Donald Trump exhibits toward reporters: his relentless desire to hold the media's gaze, and his poison-pen notes and angry statements in response to coverage," Haberman wrote.
"The reality is that he treats everyone like they are his psychiatrists — reporters, government aides, and members of Congress, friends and pseudo-friends and rally attendees and White House staff and customers," she explained. "All present a chance for him to vent or test reactions or gauge how his statements are playing or discover how he is feeling. He works things out in real time in front of all of us."
Haberman wrote that despite Trump's constant attacks on reporters, he has met with nearly every prominent author that has written a book about him.
"His impulse to try to sell his preferred version of himself was undeterred by the stain that January 6 left on his legacy and on the democratic foundations of the country — if anything, it grew stronger," Haberman wrote.
At one point during an interview in September 2021, Haberman asked Trump whether he had "taken any documents of note upon departing the White House."
"Nothing of great urgency," Trump said, before mentioning letters that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had sent him, which he previously described as "love letters."
"You were able to take those with you?" Haberman pressed.
"He kept talking, seeming to have registered my surprise, and said, 'No, I think that's in the archives, but … Most of it is in the archives, but the Kim Jong-un letters … We have incredible things,' Haberman wrote. "In fact, Trump did not return the letters — which were included in boxes he had brought to Mar-a-Lago — to the National Archives until months later."
Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
Haberman also questioned Trump about whether he had stayed in touch with world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which Trump denied. But when she brought up Kim, Trump "responded, 'well, I don't want to say exactly" before trailing off.
"I learned after the interview that he had been telling people at Mar-a-Lago that he was still in contact with North Korea's supreme leader, whose picture with Trump hung on the wall of his new office at his club," Haberman wrote.
Trump also discussed his time at the White House, including his thoughts on his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
"I asked why he had given Jared Kushner expansive power," Haberman wrote. "'I didn't,' Trump said, although he had done exactly that. When I pressed, Trump said, 'Look, my daughter has a great relationship with him and that's very important.'"
Trump lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying "the Old Crow's a piece of shit," and mocked Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., over his efforts to ingratiate himself to Trump.
"'You know why Lindsey kisses my ass?' he asked, with Graham standing nearby. "So I'll endorse his friends.'"
During another portion, Trump discussed the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and former Vice President Mike Pence.
"I said, 'Mike, you have a chance to be Thomas Jefferson, or you can be Mike Pence,'" Trump said he told Pence before the Jan. 6 congressional session to certify election results. "He chose to be Mike Pence."
Haberman reported that Trump has also privately lashed out at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential rival, calling him "fat," "phony," and "whiny."
At one point, Trump made a "candid admission that was as jarring as it was ultimately unsurprising," Haberman wrote.
"The question I get asked more than any other question: 'If you had it to do again, would you have done it?'" Trump told Haberman of running for president. "The answer is, yeah, I think so. Because here's the way I look at it. I have so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are."
Haberman noted that Trump's first impulse was not to mention public service or any of his accomplishments but "only that it appeared to be a vehicle for fame, and that many experiences were only worth having if someone else envied them."
about Haberman's book