Washington (CNN)When President Donald Trump’s phone rang in September, he was not eager for a lengthy conversation.
“The President was really in a bad mood,” recounted the man on the line, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was hoping to learn whether the President was, in fact, withholding security assistance to coerce Ukraine into investigating political rivals.
“I wouldn’t say he hung up me,” Sondland recalled, “but it was almost like he hung up on me.”
The absence of phone etiquette is hardly a surprise for a President not known for his manners. But like a pair of new books written by administration insiders, the episode recounted by Sondland during his daylong private deposition before lawmakers helps color the portrait of a mercurial and loyalty-minded President whose actions frequently toss his administration into chaos.
The picture that emerges from thousands of pages of transcribed sworn interviews — along with separate accounts from Nikki Haley, the former United Nations envoy, and an anonymous senior administration official — show Trump’s aides scrambling to contain the damage of his actions.
Some, such as Haley, came to resent attempts by her administration colleagues to circumvent the President. She writes in a new memoir that Trump’s former chief of staff and secretary of state attempted to recruit her to “save the country” by undermining his decisions — a request she refused.
Others, like those who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, watched in horror as Trump’s associates hijacked American diplomacy.