Former President Donald Trump’s secret visit to Walter Reed in 2019 appeared to be for a routine colonoscopy, according to Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s former press secretary and first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff.
Grisham served as White House press secretary, chief of staff to Melania Trump and East Wing communications director during the Trump administration before resigning after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. In her book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” which was obtained by CNN, Grisham gives a firsthand account of her time in the White House and describes a culture of lies in the Trump administration.
In the book, Grisham does not use the term colonoscopy but heavily implies that’s what the trip was for. She says Trump’s hospital visit, which stirred weeks-long speculation about his health was a “very common procedure,” during which “a patient is put under.” She also writes that former President George W. Bush had a similar procedure while in office; Bush had multiple colonoscopies during his time in office. Grisham writes Trump did not want then-Vice President Mike Pence to be in power while he was sedated, which was part of the reason he kept his visit private. He also “did not want to be the butt of a joke” on late-night television, writes Grisham.
The episode is just one of several behind-the-scenes revelations by Grisham, who was one of Trump’s longest-serving senior staffers and witness to several headline-making moments of the Trump administration.
Grisham began working for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2015 as a press wrangler on the campaign trail. She entered the White House as deputy press secretary under Sean Spicer, but in March 2017, Melania Trump hired her for her East Wing staff. As East Wing communications director, Grisham quickly became the first lady’s most prominent staffer.
Since resigning from her position following the insurrection on January 6, Grisham has remained mostly out of the spotlight. She now lives in Kansas, where she has spent the last several months writing this book, a source familiar tells CNN.
In a statement provided to CNN, Trump said, “Too bad that sleaze bag publishers continue to report this very boring garbage. We and the MAGA movement are totally used to it. And someday in the not too distant future we will have our voice back and be treated fairly by the press.”
His spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, added, “This book is another pitiful attempt to cash in on the President’s strength and sell lies about the Trump family.”
CNN has reached out to Melania Trump’s office for comment on Grisham’s book.
In a statement to The Washington Post, which reported details from the book Tuesday morning, Melania Trump’s office ripped Grisham.
“The intent behind this book is obvious,” Melania Trump’s office said in a statement to the Post. “It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House. Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”
“Well, that was awkward”
Grisham details the tumultuous period after Trump’s alleged affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were made public, outlining Melania Trump’s “anger,” and her attempts to distance herself from her husband. Grisham says the public humiliation turned Melania Trump into an emboldened first lady.
“After the Stormy Daniels story broke and all the allegations that followed from other women, I felt that Mrs. Trump was basically unleashed,” writes Grisham. “She had always been independent from her husband, but now, as a wronged and publicly humiliated first lady, she seemed liberated to do whatever she wanted, or didn’t want, to do.”
Grisham also faced a humiliating episode in the wake of the Daniels news. The then-President called Grisham from Air Force One to say that his manhood, which Daniels had detailed in an interview, was “fine.”
“‘Everything down there is fine,’ he said. What the hell was I supposed to say to that? I kept it to a simple ‘Okay,’ praying that somehow we’d get disconnected,” writes Grisham. “’It’s fine,’ he repeated. ‘Uh, yes, sir,’ I replied. Well, that was awkward.”
Grisham writes that Trump once asked her then-boyfriend, who was also a Trump aide, if she was good in bed. She also alleges that Trump would constantly ask where a young female press aide was at press events and allegedly once requested that aide be brought to his cabin on Air Force One so that he could “look at her [behind].”
The former press secretary also busts one of the biggest mysteries of Trump’s public image: His hair.
Grisham says Trump cuts it himself, “with a huge pair of scissors that could probably cut a ribbon at an opening of one of his properties.”
Interactions with Putin
Grisham also details some of the interactions between the former President and one of the main focuses of his presidency: Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
According to Grisham, Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would act more tough toward him when the cameras were rolling during a Group of 20 summit in 2019.
“Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave, we’ll talk. You understand,” Trump told Putin when they met on the sidelines of the G20 in Osaka, Japan, Grisham writes.
Grisham also writes of Trump’s intense temper tantrums and fury, of which she was often the target, describing his behavior as “terrifying.”
“When I began to see how his temper wasn’t just for shock value or the cameras, I began to regret my decision to go to the West Wing,” writes Grisham, who says a good chunk of Trump’s anger was often directed at White House counsel Pat Cipollone. “He didn’t like them telling him that things he wanted to do were unethical or illegal. So he’d scream at them. But then he’d usually listen. And then yell at them again later.”
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.