US politics

Trump ex-assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, tells her White House story after being fired

The former personal secretary to President Donald Trump paints a different picture of the Oval Office incumbent in her book Off the Record.

La exasesora de Trump despedida por revelar secretos íntimos cuenta toda la historia
Chris Kleponis / POOL EFE

Madeleine Westerhout, the former personal secretary to Donald Trump, this week released a book about her experiences of working at the White House and her relationship with the president in the aptly titled “Off the Record.” Westerhout, who also served as Director of Oval Office Operations from February to August 2019, was fired by Trump after a dinner with reporters during which she revealed intimate details about the president and his family on the understanding it would remain confidential.

During Trump’s presidency the White House revolving door has never been more used: the president is not stranger to chopping and changing his staff and has been handed numerous letters of resignation with many of his former employers very freely sharing their opinion of the 45th President of the United States. Westerhout has taken a different tack in Off the Record, as she explained in an interview with People Magazine.

I spent over two and a half years sitting outside the Oval Office, and I wanted people to get a more accurate depiction of our president," she told People. "I believe he loves this country, and he is doing everything in his power to keep the American citizens safe, and I just wanted to share with people the President Trump that I got to know."

Westerhout enjoyed such a close relationship with the Trump family that she would regularly accompany them on trips to Camp David and Mar a Lago. It was this intimacy that would eventually lead to her losing what she described as he “dream job.”

The "off-the-record" dinner

Westerhout was on a trip with the president to his golf club in New Jersey where she was invited by another White House assistant to a dinner with four reporters, which was billed as an off-the-record, unofficial event. In her account of the meeting, Westerhout said these dinners were a regular occurrence. “The press sees such a dinner as a chance to get better acquainted with members of the White House staff, and to ensure that it’s a social and not official occasion, it’s made clear at the outset that everything is off the record,” she says in the book.

However, on this occasion one of the reporters in attendance did not honour the pact. It later transpired that Westerhout had said Trump did not like being photographed with his youngest daughter, Tiffany, whom she said the president felt was overweight. She also claimed Trump paid little attention to Tiffany and revealed details of the inner workings of the Oval Office. 

"It was Saturday night, and I had nothing else to do. ... The fact that I had been drinking throughout the day and my defenses were down also had something to do with my changing my mind [about attending the dinner]. I felt comfortable, and I thought I was in total control," she writes. "For a change, I was the center of attention, not [White House spokesman] Hogan [Gidley], and as much as I thought of myself as someone who preferred to be out of the spotlight, a part of me relished it. It comes from a need for approval and a desire to please others, which goes back as long as I can remember,” Westerhout wrote.

Trump appeared initially unfazed by his assistant’s slip, tweeting: “She had a bad night. I understand completely and I forgive her! She’s doing a great job!”

Apparently not everyone shared the president’s view and Westerhout was fired on 29 August, 2019.

Trump: "Go buy this book" 

Still, the relationship between Trump and Westerhout remains cordial. She describes the president as "a great leader, father, husband and just trying to look forward” in her book.

For his part, Trump has urged people to buy Off the Record, tweeting after its release: “Great new book by former Director of Oval Office Operations, Madeleine Westerhout, entitled “Off the Record”. When I look at all of the Fake Books and garbage written about me, it’s really nice to see a very smart and already wise young woman write an honest depiction of what went on at the White House during some extremely interesting and important times. So many good stories by someone who, unlike most other so called writers, was actually there, and a part of the action - of which there was plenty. Go buy this book, a job well done!”