New book: Jerusalem embassy move from the Oval Office

The following is an excerpt from the ninth chapter of Cliff Sims’s forthcoming memoir, Team of Vipers (Jan 29.) In it, he gives a behind-the-scenes view of the embassy move to Jerusalem.

“On December 6, 2017— as the tax push was entering the home stretch— I stood in the back of the Diplomatic Reception Room as Trump delivered remarks that sent shock waves around the world, particularly the Middle East. ‘I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.'”

“The day after the announcement was made, the president walked out of the Oval Office to record a video. His attention immediately went to the muted television hanging on the wall. Images of Palestinians protesting the Jerusalem decision were flashing across the screen. ‘How widespread is it?’ Trump asked. ‘It’s hard to tell,’ I replied. ‘They always just show footage from the hot spots.'”

“Some protestors screamed ‘Down with America!’ and ‘Down with Israel!’ while others chanted in Rhythm, ‘Trump, Trump, you will see— Palestine will be free.’ They torched American flags and burned posters of the President’s face. Angry mobs stomped on his picture and others hanged him in effigy. As we continued to watch, I felt an urge to look away. It reminded me of the feeling I get when I see someone trip and stumble in public. Their instinct is to immediately look around to see if anyone noticed; my instinct is to look away so they won’t feel embarrassed.”

“The President had done nothing wrong. He had taken a stand and made good on a promise that Clinton, Bush, and Obama had all bailed on. I was proud of what he had done — we all were. But I could not help but feel uncomfortable as he calmly watched a mob carry a stuffed Trump through the streets on a cross. I find it difficult to explain what it feels like to watch that level of hatred being displayed on TV screens all over the world while standing right next to the person at whom the hatred is being directed.”

“And yet the President was the calm in the eye of the storm. He watched the segment casually but intently, without his usual running commentary. And when it concluded, he turned to me without seeming to have been affected negatively in any way and asked — à la President Jed Bartlet in The West Wing — “What’s next?”

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