September 13, 2022

“I’m just not going to leave.” That, apparently, is what former President Donald Trump told an aide in the days following the 2020 presidential election.

That’s according to the soon-to-be-released book about Trump by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman called, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” In an excerpt obtained by CNN, Haberman writes that Trump told another aide, “We’re never leaving. How can you leave when you won an election?”

Haberman wrote that Trump went from seemingly recognizing that he had lost the election to being defiant that he had won. The idea of refusing to leave the White House is not surprising when it comes to Trump, but it also had not been reported previously.

Because it’s now coming out in a book, Haberman is being criticized in some circles for holding on to information — a frequent criticism of reporters who write books about the subjects they cover.

Keith Olberman tweeted, “Trump: ‘I’m just not going to leave.’ Oh good, another fact, vital to the safety and continuation of the nation, that @maggieNYT withheld from the public for many months if not a year-and-a-half so she could put it in her (expletive) book.”

That was the general criticism — that Haberman withheld information that the public should have known before now.

Of course, we have no idea as to when Haberman learned of this particular detail, nor should it be assumed that not previously reporting Trump’s threats posed a national security threat.

In a statement to The Wrap’s Andi Ortiz, a Times spokesperson said, “Maggie Haberman took leave from The Times to write her book. In the course of reporting the book, she shared considerable newsworthy information with The Times. Editors decided what news was best suited for our news report.”

Back to Trump. As CNN’s Jeremy Herb wrote, “Trump’s vow that he would refuse to vacate the White House had no historical precedent, Haberman writes, and his declaration left aides uncertain as to what he might do next. The closest parallel might have been Mary Todd Lincoln, who stayed in the White House for nearly a month after her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated, the author noted.”

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper for the upcoming special report —  “American Coup: The January 6th Investigation,” which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern — Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney talked about the revelations in Haberman’s book.

Cheney, who is co-leader of the House select committee’s investigation into Jan. 6, told Tapper she had not seen the book. But she said, “… when you hear something like that, I think you have to recognize that we were in no man’s land and territory we’d never been in before as a nation. And when you think about, well, the Supreme Court would have sorted it out, you have to ask yourself, but who would have enforced the rulings of the court? And if you have a president who’s refusing to leave the White House, or who’s saying he refuses to leave the White House, then anyone who sort of stands aside and says someone else will handle it is themselves putting the nation at risk, because it’s clear that, when you’re at a moment that we faced, everyone’s got to stand up and take responsibility. And I think it’s not surprising that those are the sentiments that he reportedly expressed. I think, again, it just affirms the reality of the danger.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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