On election night 2016, once Donald Trump realized he was likely to become the 45th president, he declared to his aides that he couldn’t wait to shove it in John Kasich’s face — or, more specifically, “his ass.”
“When I get to Washington I’m gonna shove it up Kasich’s a—!” Trump exclaimed, according to a new book by former Trump campaign and White House aide Cliff Sims.
It was 10:16 p.m. on November 8, 2016, and Sims noted that “it was the first time that night that I had heard him say ‘when’ rather than ‘if.'”
It’s one of many first-person anecdotes the former White House communications staffer shares in his upcoming book, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House.” The Daily Caller reviewed an excerpt from the book describing the president’s words and actions as he watched election returns on the 14th floor of New York City’s Trump Tower.
Sims describes how the real estate magnate transitioned from frustration to euphoria in the campaign war room, festooned with televisions. Sims reveals Trump chose to watch returns within the space because “nowhere else on earth has this many TVs where I can watch it all at once.”
Throughout the night, Trump offered running TV commentary, noting that he didn’t like the graphics on the Fox News Channel and said, “honestly, I really hate to say it—but MSNBC has the best graphics. Fox is the best—they have the best talent. I mean, look at the rest of these people. They can’t believe what’s happening right now. But Fox’s graphics are terrible. They’ve got to do something about it.”
Switching to CNN, Trump recounted, “they’ve got John King on the maps again … I used to hate him on the maps, then the maps started turning red and I started liking him. But he wants the map to be blue. And everyone knows he should be an anchor by now. But Zucker has him on the maps, and we all know what that means.”
Trump’s commentary persisted in-between fielding phone calls from a range of prominent informal advisors — including Matt Drudge and Rupert Murdoch. At one point Sims showed Trump a Drudge Report headline reading “POLITICAL MAP COULD BE RESHAPED,” drawing an amused “We’re about to find out how smart he really is,” from Trump.
What was initially a lighthearted mood was threatened later in the evening by seemingly tight returns in Virginia. Sims writes that Trump openly directed his ire for the numbers at then-governor Terry McAuliffe, blaming his decision to restore voting rights to felons for Hillary Clinton’s advantage.
Trump became so agitated by the situation in Virginia, he began drafting a tweet declaring that he was prepared to contest the results.
The candidate, however, was apparently talked out of the social media post by campaign chairman Steve Bannon, who told him “we’ve got to be patient tonight—we’ve really got to be patient.” Sims notes that Trump mollified himself by urging aides to call Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch with instructions to prepare to play up the Virginia situation, if necessary.
“Somebody get Rupert on the phone and tell him to get ready to make this a big deal if we need to,” he yelled.
Trump’s attention was then sidetracked when the results came in showing victory in Ohio, which apparently convinced him the tide had turned. It was at that moment that he mocked Kasich, the state’s then-governor.
The future president also was overjoyed by news that the Mexican Peso had fallen to a historic low on the news of Trump’s likely victory, saying “that’s the best news I’ve heard all day.”
Despite the growing sense between the candidate and his team that victory was imminent, Trump superstitiously avoided celebration, even refusing to read or mark up his prepared victory speech at 10:55 p.m. The speech, written by now-White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, was labeled “Speech Number 2,” Sims notes.
Sims writes that he remains unsure whether “Speech Number 1” was another victory speech draft or a concession.
Murdoch would call minutes later, telling Trump it looked like a victory. “Not yet, Rupy,” Trump replied. “We have a three-stroke lead with one hole left. We can’t celebrate until we’re in the clubhouse.”
After his victory became clear and the president-elect prepared to deliver his victory speech, Sims writes that Trump was uncharacteristically quiet as he entered the tower’s elevator.
Melania Trump noticed the president-elect’s suddenly solemn mood, squeezed his hand, and told him, “We’re going to do this together. And you’re going to be a great president.”