Michael Wolff says his new book Fire and Fury is based on 200 conversations over the past 18 months with President Donald Trump, most members of his senior staff, some of whom he talked to dozens of times, and many people with whom they had spoken.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that "this book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House."
Fire and Fury, out on Jan. 9, contains many interesting insights and claims, big and small. Some are new; others are familiar but bolstered by additional color and detail. Here are some that stand out:
TRUMP THOUGHT HE WOULD LOSE THE ELECTION.
Key excerpt: In politics somebody has to lose, but invariably everybody thinks they can win. And you probably can’t win unless you believe that you will win — except in the Trump campaign. The leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was and how everybody involved in it was a loser. He was equally convinced that rival Hillary Clinton’s people were brilliant winners — "They’ve got the best and we’ve got the worst," he frequently said. Time spent with Trump on the campaign plane was often an epic dissing experience: Everybody around him was an idiot.
STEPHEN K. BANNON THOUGHT DONALD TRUMP JR.’S MEETING WITH A RUSSIAN LAWYER WAS "TREASONOUS."
Key excerpt: "The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero," said an astonished and derisive (Stephen K.) Bannon, not long after the meeting was revealed. "The three senior guys in the campaign," an incredulous Bannon went on, "thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s--t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."
(The president fired back at Bannon on Wednesday, saying in a statement that "Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books." Washington Post reporters have found no evidence that Trump met with the Russians during this meeting at Trump Tower.)
TRUMP DIDN’T KNOW WHO JOHN BOEHNER WAS.
Key excerpt: "You need a son of a b---h as your chief of staff. And you need a son of a b---h who knows Washington," (former Fox News chief) Roger Ailes told Trump not long after the election. "You’ll want to be your own son of a b---h, but you don’t know Washington." Ailes had a suggestion: "Speaker Boehner." (John Boehner had been the speaker of the House until he was forced out in a tea party putsch in 2015.) "Who’s that?" Trump asked.
MELANIA TRUMP DREADED BECOMING FIRST LADY.
Key excerpt: The New York Post got its hands on outtakes from a nude photo shoot that Melania had done early in her modeling career — a leak that everybody other than Melania assumed could be traced back to Trump himself. Inconsolable, she confronted her husband. Is this the future? She told him she wouldn’t be able to take it. Trump responded in his fashion — We’ll sue! — and set her up with lawyers. But he was uncharacteristically contrite, too. Just a little longer, he told her. It would all be over in November. He offered his wife a solemn guarantee: There was simply no way he would win.
TRUMP EATS MCDONALD’S BECAUSE HE THINKS THE FOOD IS SAFE.
Key excerpt: He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.
IVANKA TRUMP HAS PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS OF HER OWN.
Key excerpt: Jared (Kushner) and Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves: If some time in the future the time came, she’d be the one to run for president (or the first one of them to take the shot). The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump.
IVANKA SOMETIMES MADE FUN OF HER FATHER’S HAIR, IN PRIVATE.
Key excerpt: She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp reduction surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.
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