According to a new book that offers a glimpse into President Joe Biden’s White House, Biden actively distrusts the Secret Service to the point that he does not speak up in front of his agents and believed the agency lied about an incident involving the German Shepherd of Biden Major bit a cop.
In The fight of his life, published Jan. 17, author Chris Whipple describes how Biden showed a friend around the White House and pointed to the spot where Major allegedly bit a member of Biden’s security team. ‘Look, the Secret Service is here never up here. It didn’t happen,” Biden said.
The book, obtained by cafemadrid ahead of publication, provides an inside-the-West Wing account of Joe Biden’s first two years in office and puts a mostly positive spin on Biden’s efforts to deal with a myriad of crises ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it also reflects the uncertainties of an administration agonized over whether Donald Trump would try to stay in power after losing the 2020 election. And then there are Biden’s concerns about the Trumpists in his Secret Service.
In a statement, Robyn Patterson, a White House spokesman, told cafemadrid: “We respect that there will be no shortage of books written about the administration that cover a wide variety of claims. We do not intend to make any affirmations or denials when it comes to the details of those claims. The author has not given us a chance to verify the materials attributed here. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told cafemadrid in a separate statement [Biden] “has faith in the men and women who protect him and his family.”
Whipple spends much of the first part of the book discussing the fears of the transition of power in the fall and winter of 2020. As part of the transition process, Biden’s team actively planned for the possibility that Trump would use the U.S. military to help the overthrow election. The concerns were also shared by other top officials, and they are widely reported by other Trump administration chroniclers that Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shared their concerns about Trump. But as Whipple reports, Pelosi didn’t just talk to Milley about their shared concerns; she also served as a go-between between Milley and the Biden team during the transition. Biden’s concerns about the peaceful transition of power were so pervasive before he took office that his advisers blamed it in part for contributing to the military’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Trump’s distrust was so great that Biden tried to delete reminders of the former president’s presence wherever possible from the White House. According to Whipple’s account, this included an attempt to remove the Resolute desk, which Biden believed was tainted by Trump’s use of it, from the Oval Office and replace it with the one used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This fell through and Roosevelt’s office remained in Hyde Park, New York.
Biden may not have won Roosevelt’s office, but he did try to push through some of the most ambitious first-term legislation since the New Deal. While Whipple does not report on the Capitol Hill negotiations in the detail from other recent booksgives readers a good sense of the Biden administration’s long, gradual process to get Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in supporting the social spending bill called the Inflation Reduction Act. There are plenty of stumbling blocks along the way, ranging from the public war of words waged between Manchin and the White House in late 2021, to more personal ones like Biden mispronouncing Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s first name during the signing ceremony for the IRA. It even details Biden’s nadir domestically, when all progress was on his agenda on Capitol Hill seemed stuck in the fall of 2021 and he confided in a friend that he feared he was “not feared”.
Whip, who previously wrote a book on the position of the White House chief of staff, also details Biden’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Biden White House’s efforts to deter the Russian invasion of Ukraine and then help Ukrainians defend themselves. In excerpts from the book earlier reports Politico, Whipple captures the back and forth blame game over the withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to 13 Americans dead after a suicide bombing at the entrance to Kabul’s airport. He describes how Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed poor intelligence community assessments, pushed back CIA Director Bill Burns, and current Chief of Staff Ron Klain pointed the finger at past administrations after Leon Panetta — his predecessor under Barack Obama — went on cable. to compare the withdrawal to the Bay of Pigs debacle during the Kennedy administration.
Whipple’s treatment of Ukraine is much more uplifting. He documents the Biden administration’s efforts to convince the Russians not to invade and Biden’s stubborn opposition to Putin afterwards, even comparing Whipple to Winston Churchill’s opposition to Adolf Hitler during World War II. He describes the moment when the United States knew for sure that Putin would invade. On the eve of the attack, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to issue another warning about what the Russians said were military exercises near the Ukrainian border. Shoigu’s chilling response was simply, “Well, those troops won’t be around for long. I can assure you.” Less than a week later, Russia invaded.
Update, January 13, 12:05 PM: The story has been updated with an additional statement from the White House.