Trump denies ‘blow-up’ with Mike Pence in 2018, calls new book ‘fiction’

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Former President Donald Trump Friday denied a report in a forthcoming book that he had a rare blow-up with Vice President Mike Pence in 2018 over Mr. Pence‘s hiring of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Mr. Trump said the account by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, whom he invited to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida for two interviews earlier this year, “is totally false.”

“No such fight ever happened, it is fiction as are so many other stories written in the vast number of books coming out about me,” Mr. Trump said.

In an essay ahead of his book’s release, Mr. Bender wrote that the confrontation came when Mr. Pence’s political committee hired Mr. Lewandowski, a close adviser to the president. He said Mr. Trump, holding a newspaper article about the hiring, told Mr. Pence that it made Mr. Trump look weak, “like his team was abandoning him as he was probed for his campaign’s role in Russian election meddling.”

He crumpled the article and threw it at his vice president. “So disloyal,” Mr. Trump reportedly said.

Mr. Pence “lost it,” according to Mr. Bender, writing that the vice president had discussed the hiring with Mr. Trump over lunch after presidential son-in-law Jared Kusher asked Mr. Pence to hire Mr. Lewandowski.

“Mr. Pence picked up the article and threw it back at Mr. Trump,” Mr. Bender wrote. “He leaned toward the president and pointed a finger a few inches from his chest. ‘We walked you through every detail of this,’ Mr. Pence snarled. ‘We did this for you — as a favor. And this is how you respond? You need to get your facts straight.’”

Mr. Pence would later anger Mr. Trump by refusing to indulge his demands to stop the Electoral College count on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol as the vice president was presiding over a Senate session. Some people in the crowd chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as security agents narrowly whisked the vice president and his family out of danger.

In the essay, Mr. Bender also quotes then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning colleagues that “the crazies have taken over” the administration after Mr. Trump‘s loss last November. The report said Mr. Pompeo”conveyed concern to others that Mr. Trump might be more willing to engage in an international conflict to strengthen his political argument for remaining in office,” and that he organized daily calls with Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

The former president responded to those book accounts, and others, Friday by saying, “It seems to me that meeting with authors of the ridiculous number of books being written about my very successful administration, or me, is a total waste of time.”

“They write whatever they want to write anyway without sources, fact-checking, or asking whether or not an event is true or false,” Mr. Trump said. “Frankly, so many stories are made-up, or pure fiction. These writers are often bad people who write whatever comes to their mind or fits their agenda. It has nothing to do with facts or reality. So when reading the garbage that the Fake News Media puts out, please remember this and take everything with a ‘grain of salt.’”

Mr. Bender said Friday he stood by his reporting, including the account of Mr. Trump‘s blow-up with Mr. Pence.

“The fight happened in front of others and multiple sources confirmed,” Mr. Bender tweeted. “It is correct — and just one of many revealing details in the excerpt and still unreported in the book.”

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