Olivia Nuzzi was on CNN with John Berman this morning to talk about her piece in New York Magazine that looks inside the post-defeat Trump White House.
"One Trump insider told reporter Olivia Nuzzi, quote, 'He wants to lose, he's out of money, he's worried about being arrested, he's worried about being assassinated,' they said. 'It hasn't been a great experience for him. He liked showing people around the White House, but the actual day-to-day business of being president, it's been pretty unpleasant for him.' Joining us now is Olivia Nuzzi. This is one heck of an article and a few amazing quotes that have drawn so much attention. In that one quote we read, there's like six things that I want to dive into there. 'He wants to lose.' What does that mean?" Berman asked.
Nuzzi said this is something his friends and allies have speculated about for a long time.
"That he's not happy as president, that even though he might like the status that being president provides, he doesn't actually enjoy the job. He doesn't enjoy performing typical presidential duties. He finds it rather boring. And that he doesn't really want to keep on doing this. And often during the campaign, when he would give a particularly lackluster performance at a rally, say, or if he seemed to be in particularly bad spirits, this is something that White House staffers and campaign staffers and people outside of the formal Trump apparatus would speculate about."
Berman asked about her statement that Trump worries about being arrested, especially in light of CNN's Jamie Gangel reporting that Trump has been asking whether he can pardon himself.
"But obviously, if he is no longer in office, he has new legal threats and there is a new possibility that he could be investigated, forced to hand over documents that so far he's been able to avoid doing. He's kind of used the office of the presidency as a shield, legally, to protect himself," Berman said.
He talked about the pending investigations in New York state.
"So if he does want to lose, as you're being told, then what's he doing? Then why hasn't he, if not conceded, then at least not impeded the Biden transition? And this is something that I've been fixated on, why has he not said a word out loud in public for eight days?" Berman asked.
Nuzzi said one of the quotes that not getting as much attention is one insider who said, in this person's view, "The president is okay with losing, but he's not okay with quitting."
She said she could imagine that the president views admitting the defeat as "somehow different, as somehow more shameful than the act of losing the election itself. And this is a guy from reality TV. He understands high drama, and this is the series finale. And maybe he wants to drag it out a bit and have these legal battles that his heart's not really in, because he wants to drag out the drama that he can only really create as president of the United States. it's not quite the same if he is no longer, if he is the outgoing president."
He asked about her statement that Trump staffers are "counting down the days from freedom."
"Well, people know that there will be life after Trump," she said.
"That life is long and it's certainly long in Washington. And that they need to kind of go on a bit of a reputational recovery tour. And I don't think it's surprising. I think there's just this class of kind of anti-professional operatives in the White House, and in this White House, they're certainly anti-professional, who want to maintain their status, want to maintain their relationships with the people that perhaps they've attacked publicly, during this administration. And they want to have jobs when this is all over.
"And now, you know, we're starting to hear about White House officials looking for new jobs and, you know, the impression seems to be that everyone around the president knows that it's over and is preparing for it to be over, but the president just isn't ready yet to admit that."