Journalist Michael Wolff’s new book ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ has caused a storm in the media and within the White House, where Trump is now battling against the author with all the legal measures at his disposal.
From the President’s reaction to his election win to the attitudes of those surrounding him, Wolff’s book offers an insider’s view of the White House that puts the Presidency in an entirely new light. Trump and White House staff have since denied all claims made by Wolff, and a focus on Steve Bannon within the book has led Trump to directly denounce his former Chief Strategist as having “lost his mind”.
Wolff has since said that he stands by “absolutely everything in the book”, and friends of his have claimed they too saw some incidents first hand. Wolff has also stated that he has tapes and notes to back up the claims made in his book, though he has given no indication as to whether these would be released publicly.
Included below are some of the most impactful and intriguing claims from ‘Fire and Fury’.
Steve Bannon calls Trump Jr. Russia meeting “treasonous”
No other revelation from ‘Fire and ‘Fury’ has made as much of an impact as Steve Bannon’s reported outrage towards Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting a Russian lawyer in June 2016. The then chief strategist is reported as having called the encounter “treasonous”. Such meetings with Russian officials are the focus of the enquiry now underway into the connections between the Trump White House and Russia.
Speaking after hearing of the meeting, Bannon is quoted as saying “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Ivanka Trump wants to run for the Presidency in the future
According to ‘Fire and Fury’, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner struck a deal for the President’s daughter to run for the presidency, if the opportunity presented itself. According to Wolff, the two had a discussion after they had both accepted jobs in the White House, where they discussed her own ambitions. Wolff writes: ”Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president.”
Trump insisted the Billy Bush “grab them by the p-ssy” tape wasn’t really him
A recording of a conversation between Billy Bush and Trump, where the president talks of grabbing women “by the p-ssy”, looked sure to derail his presidential campaign when it leaked to the media in October 2016. In Wolff’s book, he claims the president repeatedly insisted that it was not him in the recording, and suggested the tape was a fake.
According to Wolff, the President told one anchor: “No, it wasn’t me. I’ve been told by people who understand this stuff about how easy it is to alter these things and put in voices and completely different people.”
Trump is rambling and repeating himself
Not a revelation to most people who have read the news in the past year, but White House staff too are concerned with the president’s ramblings, and Wolff claims that the President often has trouble staying focused.
Wolff writes: “[Trump’s staffers were] concerned that Trump’s rambling and his alarming repetitions (the same sentences delivered with the same expressions minutes apart) had significantly increased, and that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined…”
Trump was “befuddled” by his own victory
Before the book’s early release (prompted by the collective outrage of the White House) Wolff penned an article for NYMag adapted from the book. In it, Wolff describes the atmosphere at the Trump camp immediately after his November 2016 election win:
“Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend – Trump might actually win – seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears – and not of joy. There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”
Melania Trump struggled with the idea of the Presidency
Vindicating the jokes of political commentators everywhere, Wolff details the struggles he witnessed in Trump marriage, saying that the President and First Lady were “visibly fighting” on inauguration day. Wolff writes that Melania Trump appeared to be “on the verge of tears” on the day, and that when the President spoke to her he was “sharp and peremptory.”
Despite these insights, Wolff claims that the relationship between the President and the First Lady is something that is very much kept hidden. Wolff writes: “In general, the Trumps’ relationship was one of those things that nobody asked too many questions about — another mysterious variable in the presidential mood.”
Rupert Murdoch and Trump’s regular conversations
As suspected by many over the course of the past year, Wolff claims in his book that Trump not only has the ear of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, but talks with him regularly. He writes that Steve Bannon disapproves of their conversations, as he often attacks the media and has previously called them “the opposition party”.
Wolff writes that at a Jan. 4, 2017 dinner party at Wolff’s home, former Fox News chief Roger Ailes told Bannon that he was worried Trump would “jump through hoops for Rupert”. In a phone call between Trump and Murdoch, which took place after Trump had met with tech industry executives, the President is reported as saying: “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them,” Wolff writes that Murdoch then informed Trump that for eight years the tech industry “had Obama in their pocket”, and in fact Murdoch was concerned with the level of help Trump was willing to give tech executives, as the President intended to help them receive visas, which would contradict his hardline stance on immigration. To this move, Murdoch is reported as putting down the phone before shrugging his shoulders and saying “what a f-cking idiot”.
Nunberg reads Trump the constitution
Wolff writes that Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide, was given the task of explaining the United States Constitution to the President. Wolff quotes Nunberg as saying: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head,”. The chapter adds to the idea that the President has less knowledge of politics than Presidents that came before him.
This has been partially disputed by Nunberg, who told ABC News last week: “I wasn’t there to teach the president the Constitution. The president had a granular understanding of the Constitution, it was good enough. What I was there for, it was around eight days before the first debate and I didn’t want him to have any gotcha questions.”
Trump eats fast food to avoid being poisoned
Donald Trump has a love of fast food, as well recorded in the run-up to his presidency and since taking office. Wolff claims that the President’s fast food habit exists partly because of his long-term fear of being poisoned.
On the subject, Wolff writes that Trump “liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely remade.”
Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia
Trump’s first visit abroad infamously saw him visit Saudi Arabia, where he secured a $110bn arms deal for the US. In ‘Fire and Fury’, Wolff writes that the Saudi government then threw a $75m party in the President’s honour, and drove the first family around in gold golf carts.
In March, then Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was invited to the White House. Wolf writes that the prince was using the relationship between himself and Trump, struck up during the President’s prior visit, as “part of his own power play in the kingdom. And the Trump White House, ever denying this was the case, let him.”