Fox News host Dana Perino, who recently landed her own show at the network, hasn’t always been copacetic with President Trump. She recalled a point in 2015 when an interaction with The Donald put her in a fetal position under her desk.
His behavior towards her seemed kind — at first.
Until she realized that Trump thought they had a mutual understanding that they’d help each other.
Perino’s first chance to meet Trump was in 2011 when she had a chance to fill in for then-host Gretchen Carlson for Fox & Friends. Carlson was unwell.
“He was a regular,” Perino said in a lengthy podcast conversation for The Jame Weinstein Show. “He was very nice.”
Later that day, Perino received a call from Trump welcoming her to New York and asking if they could have lunch. “I said Ok. And I suggested a public place — the food court in Trump Tower. I’d never been to Trump Tower.”
Weinstein didn’t ask why she was so insistent on going to a public place with Trump. But that would’ve been a useful question.
“He wanted to know if I thought he could be successful for 2012 campaign primary,” she recalled.
Perino had no advice for him.
“I need to be honest with you, Sir,” she remembered telling him. “I’m flattered that you asked me, but I’ve actually never worked on a campaign.” She said she understood politics but wouldn’t say she had any great knowledge about Iowa.
So Pernio punted him off to GOP Strategist Karl Rove.
“I said, you know, who you really need to talk to, [is] Karl Rove. He sent me off on my way. Gave me a gift bag…a couple of ties for Peter,” she said. (Peter is Perino’s husband.)
Perino immediately called Rove: “I said, I’m sorry, but I sent Trump your way for Iowa.”
Despite being not helpful, she said she and Trump maintained a “friendly” relationship.
Then came April, 2015. Perino’s first book, And The Good News Is, was published. Someone on her staff suggested she send it to him.
“I was a little shy to do it,” she said.
Still, she sent him her book. Sure enough, he called.
“He sent me a letter congratulating me and he tweeted about the book,” Perino said. “It was really nice of him to do, right? If I had known he was going to run for president, I would have never sent it to him.”
Perino said she would never want there to be a perception of a quid pro quo with Trump.
“Do you think he thought that?” Weinstein asked.
Perino replied, “I know he did.”
After Trump announced his intent to run for president, Perino appeared on Fox News’s The Five and asked, “On what planet is this a good idea?” She explained on the podcast, “It wasn’t that I don’t like him personally — it was that I wanted the Republican Party to win.”
Trump wasn’t pleased.
Weinstein: Did he call you?
Perino: No. He tweeted about me that night. Talking about how disloyal I was, and pointing out that I had wanted help on my book, and that I had really done wrong by him. I felt bad because I never wanted him to … I would have never asked him to look at my book if I had known he was going to run for President … It was brutal.”
But “brutal” doesn’t quite cut it.
“He got really mad,” she said. “He had pointed out that I had wanted help on my book and that I had done wrong by him. I would never have asked him to look at my book if that was going to require a loyalty I wouldn’t have given as an opinion journalist. I have to tell you, I was like in a fetal position under my desk.”
Perino said half the attacks against her were from overseas bots.
Ten days into his race — in June, 2015 — Trump called.
“I was scared to talk to him,” Perino recalled. But she thought to herself, if she doesn’t take his call, he’s going to ask her to call him back and he’s going to say she called him.
So she picked up. “And we had a really good conversation,” she said. “He said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘Well, look, I would have never sent you the book had I thought it was going to require me to be supportive of you in this campaign. It’s not that I don’t think you’re a great guy.'”
He asked her for campaign advice. She told him, “I’m not going to be an advisor.”
The call seemed to put their relationship on a peaceful plane.
“We had a pleasant enough conversation that he has never mentioned me again,” she said. “I think he doesn’t know I exist and if he does, he ignores me.”
Perino says maybe Trump will watch her new 2 p.m. show, The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.
“The fact that he called was really nice of him actually because I was devastated,” she said, explaining that the fact that he has “left her alone” has given her room to feel like she can be more of a “neutral observer.”
Although she admits she leans right, she says Trump’s call gave her freedom.
Listen to the entire interview here.