When American journalist Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House released on Friday, days ahead of its schedule, it became an instant bestseller. The book offers explosive commentary on US President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the first year of his administration. Reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the President, his inner circle and key aides inside and outside the US administration, the book lifts the lid on how Trump is perceived by some within the White House.
Wolff claimed the Trump team was shocked by his win on election night and future First Lady, Melania Trump, was in tears, “and not of joy,” after learning that the former television celebrity would win. On inauguration day, Wolff writes, Trump “was visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed to be on the verge of tears and would return to New York.” The two reportedly have separate bedrooms (“the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms”).
Trump’s former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon too lends his voice to the book. In the book, the Breitbart News chief — who was fired by Trump after the Charlottesville violence — also accused Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr of “treasonous” behaviour while meeting a group of Russians in the Trump Tower. Charles Harder, Trump’s personal lawyer, told Reuters that “legal action is imminent” against Bannon.
The book has been at the receiving end of the US President’s criticism. The US President lashed out against Steve Bannon and the author of the book, denying many of the allegations. Wolff on Saturday claimed that the book had raised questions about Trump’s ineptitude at handling the administration and may as well bring about his downfall. Read more here.
“I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect,” Wolff said in an interview to BBC radio on Saturday. “The story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job…Suddenly everywhere people are going ‘oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes’. That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end … this presidency.”
So what exactly did the book say and what has been Trump’s response to it so far?
Fire and Fury: Bannon described the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous”, “unpatriotic” and “bad shit”. He also warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
Trump: “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
Fire and Fury: Wolff also wrote of how he sat down with Trump in his Beverly Hills home, in presence of Kushner and Trump’s aides, Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski. “I absolutely spoke to the President. Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it was certainly not off the record,” he was quoted as saying on NBC’s ‘Today’ program. Read more here.
Trump: “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!” Trump wrote on Twitter after excerpts from the book were beginning to make noise.
Fire and Fury: Wolff claimed that many White House insiders questioned Trump’s competence as a President. He also wrote that Trump repeats himself constantly.
“Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes,” Wolff wrote in a column this week. He also claimed that Trump spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the telephone to old friends.
Trump: “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence. Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top TV Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!” he wrote in a series of tweets. Read more here.