Over the weekend, Donald Trump literally said "you're fired" to one of his top political consultants. After BuzzFeed published McKay Coppins's profile of the reality TV star, "36 Hours On the Fake Campaign Trail With Donald Trump," Trump fired Sam Nunberg, the advisor who arranged the interview. Today, Nunberg tells the New York Post,
I told [Trump] when he fired me, ‘Sir, I’m willing to offer you my resignation.’ He didn’t accept that ... this is not unfair, honestly. I failed Mr. Trump, and that’s the long and short of it.
But according to an email obtained by the Daily Caller, Nunberg still harbors ill will towards Coppins. In an email to CNN's Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, Nunberg writes,
I tendered my resignation directly to Mr. Trump on Friday morning after the publication of what I considered to be an incredible pejorative hit piece by McKay Coppins in BuzzFeed. While I did not expect a love letter, I expect an unbiased, professional and balanced article. Sadly, the number of rife inaccuracies, mean spirited tone and complete failure of Mr. McKay to properly reflect when Mr. Trump was speaking to him in a sarcastic manner, in a blatant effort to depict in the worst possible light.
Nunberg explains that since he coordinated the interview, he offered his resignation to Trump. It appears that Nunberg and Coppins were once friends, and Nunberg assured Trump that the profile would be favorable.
Coppins stayed in Trump's luxurious Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach after Trump's travel plans changed during the interview. Nunberg explains in the email to Stelter,
When Mr. Trump’s 757 was unable to land at Laguardia because of poor weather and was diverted to Palm Beach, Mr. Trump graciously invited Mr. Coppins to stay at his club, eat his food and drink. While I in no way think this gracious gesture should guarantee favorable coverage by Mr. Coppins, I do think it is poor form to accept to Mr. Trump’s hospitality and then shit on him in print.
According to Stelter, Nunberg bcc'd multiple reporters on the email.
Coppins tells the Daily Caller, "As I wrote in the piece, I had to explain BuzzFeed’s ethics policy more than once to Trump, and I made clear that we would have to reimburse him with actual money — not repay him with a puff piece." In the profile, Trump jokes to Coppins that BuzzFeed owes him $100,000 for the private plane ride. BuzzFeed later received a bill for $857.27.
For his part, Trump says the piece was filled with "inaccurate reporting." He also makes it clear that Nunberg didn't resign, he fired him. (Nunberg told the Post that he was fired, but wrote to Stelter that he resigned.) The Post reports,
Trump said his first reaction was not to do the interview, saying, "I understand what Buzzfeed is. But Sam said to me, 'This guy is a friend of mine. It’s going to be a great story. I have confidence it will be fair.' So I actually did the interview as a courtesy to Sam. But I said to Sam, 'If this guy writes a fair story, that’s fine. But if he writes a wise-guy story, you’ll be fired.' And I said to Sam, 'OK?' And Sam said, 'OK.'
Coppins's profile certainly isn't flattering to Trump. He reports on the antics of the Celebrity Apprentice host we all know and love — a very rich guy with a much younger wife who loves to give speeches about the future of America and fly in a private jet laced with gold. Coppins makes it plain that Trump hasn't been a serious political candidate for the past 25 years.
In the profile, Coppins chronicles Trump's various grabs at publicity while "running" for governor of New York. After making a speech in New Hampshire, Trump asks his advisors, "Did [Mark] Halperin see it? Someone ask Halperin, did he see the speech? Tell him it was the biggest crowd they ever had. Tell him to watch." Halperin, a reporter for Time, co-authored the 2012 campaign book Double Down. Meanwhile, Trump insists that he doesn't court the press. Despite rumors that Trump's advisors — "yes-men," as Coppins calls them — planted the story back in January that Trump should run for governor of New York, Trump says that people are naturally interested in him. "I didn’t start the governor thing. I was approached six weeks ago by the biggest leaders in the Republican Party, and I said let me think about it. And they approached me again and again and again," he tells Coppins. "I don’t have a press agent, you know."
Perhaps now, he should get one. Coppins stands by the story, despite BuzzFeed's official "no haters" policy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.