(CNN) — One of former President Donald Trump’s top ex-aides said Tuesday that the Republican’s “vanity got in the way” of his administration’s response to COVID-19.
“I think the way we handled Covid was tragic,” Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary and chief of staff to former first lady Melania Trump, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I think the President’s vanity got in the way,” she said. “He was working for his base, he was not working for this country. He didn’t wear a mask quickly enough.”
She added, “I was part of that. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself with respect to COVID. I don’t think I can ever redeem myself.”
Grisham worked as East Wing communications director, White House press secretary and chief of staff to Melania Trump during the Trump administration. Grisham recently published a book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” which gives a firsthand account of her time in the White House.
Grisham said if Trump runs and wins the White House in 2024, the country can expect “very draconian policies,” and noted he would not be inhibited by having to run for reelection.
“He’ll be able to do whatever he wants and we all know there’s going to be retribution, there’s going to be revenge,” Grisham said.
She speculated those who have been pushing the lie that the election was stolen from Trump and those involved in the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 would be the ones working for Trump if he were to win.
“I have a feeling the 1/6 crowd might be working in the White House in 2024. Or the Sidney Powells or the Rudy Giulianis,” Grisham said.
Grisham added, “The fact that he is pushing this election lie is scary to me. And the fact that he’s the front-runner right now … if he were to run for office is scary to me.”
Grisham also touched on other advisers around the former President, specifically focusing on his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
She said Kushner, who was a senior adviser at the White House, “got really heady with power.”
“Nobody ever challenged Jared. You couldn’t. This was the President’s son-in-law. So he would dive into these areas where I know he had absolutely no expertise and, you know, claimed to save the day and then he would leave,” Grisham said.
She said Kushner and Ivanka Trump “thought they were a shadow President and first lady,” adding that Ivanka Trump is “very controlling of her image. She’s very controlled in what she does. She is very calm, which is unlike her father.”
Grisham described a culture of abuse at the White House, and said Trump was “very mean” when he yelled at his staff.
“It took me a really long time to realize it was a culture of abuse in there. You just want to keep Donald Trump happy. You just don’t want him to yell at you … you learn that you have to give him the answer that he wants or he’ll just throw you out anyway,” Grisham said.
Grisham said Trump’s explosions would include him face-to-face yelling at her.
“It’s horrible when he yells at you. It’s horrible. He’s very New York, I guess. He’s very mean when he yells at you.” Grisham said.