U.S. President Donald Trump has continued to unleash his anger at the author behind the explosive book which claims to blow the lid off the White House.
Trump tweeted today (Jan. 6) that journalist Michael Wolff, the author behind the new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, was a “total loser” who made up stories. he claimed his book was “boring and untruthful”.
He also questioned his source, Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s former White House strategist, describing him as “Sloppy”, and said he “cried” after he was sacked.
“Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone,” he tweeted.
It comes after Trump also said that the book is “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist”.
The White House has also dismissed Wolff’s book along with its author and his sources, with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calling it “complete fantasy.”
First Lady Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN that it is “a work of fiction. It is a long-form tabloid that peddles false statements and total fabrications.”
Wolff quoted several key Trump aides expressing doubt about Trump’s ability to lead the world’s largest economy and military hegemon.
“Let me put a marker in the sand here. One hundred per cent of the people around him” question Trump’s fitness for office, Wolff said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.
“They all say he is like a child. And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It’s all about him.”
Wolff said that he based the book on more than 200 interviews, and had access to the White House and Trump himself. He said on TV that he “absolutely” defended the contents of the book. He also said that he has audio recordings of interviews and extensive notes.
TILLERSON’S DEFENCE AND ADMISSION
Washington’s chief diplomat Rex Tillerson also defended Trump’s fitness for office after the bombshell new book raised questions around the state of his mental health.
Tillerson was asked about claims that Trump has a short attention span, regularly repeats himself and refuses to read briefing notes in a TV interview.
“I’ve never questioned his mental fitness. I’ve had no reason to question his mental fitness,” he said, whose office was last year forced to deny reports that he had referred to Trump as a “moron” after a national security meeting.
And, even in defending Trump, the former ExxonMobil chief executive admitted he has had to learn how to relay information to a president with a very different decision-making style.
“I have to learn how he takes information in, processes it and makes decisions,” Tillerson told CNN. “I’m here to serve his presidency. So I’ve had to spend a lot of time understanding how to best communicate with him.” But, whatever difficulties they may have had communicating, Tillerson insisted that the right decisions had been made and that the United States is in a stronger place internationally thanks to Trump’s policies.
“He is not a typical president of the past, I think that’s well recognised — that’s also why the American people chose him,” he said.
REPORTERS POINT OUT INACCURACIES
Some reporters pointed out inaccuracies even if they don’t challenge the substance of the book. Wolff writes that Mark Berman, national reporter for the Washington Post, was among those having breakfast at the Four Seasons in Georgetown one morning early in the administration. Berman said he has never been to the restaurant.
Also listed as being there was Hilary Rosen, “the music industry’s longtime representative in Washington.” She left her post atop the Recording Industry Association of America in 2003.
Fox News TV and radio host Laura Ingraham also tweeted that she saw a “total fabrication” in the book too.
But Wolff does have his supporters. Former Hollywood Reporter co-president Janice Min backed up Wolff’s recollection of a conversation between Bannon and late Fox News chief Roger Ailes at a small Manhattan dinner party. She tweeted that she was one of the six guests at the dinner party and every word in the book about it was “absolutely accurate”.
The book includes extensive quotes from Bannon and its publication sparked a very public break between the former allies.
Bannon is quoted accusing Trump’s eldest son Don Jr of “treasonous” contacts with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, and saying the president’s daughter Ivanka, who imagines running for president one day, is “dumb as a brick.”
But it is Trump himself who is cast in the most unfavourable light. The book claims that for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the president was an “idiot.” For chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, he was “dumb as (bleep).” And for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, he was a “dope.”
BOOK BECOMES A BESTSELLER
Despite Trump making a legal threat over the publication of Wolff’s book, it appears to have had the opposite the effect of making it an early 2018 hot-seller.
Information released by Amazon and Barnes & Noble reported that hardcovers of Fire and Fury stood at No. 1 as of midday Friday. They were also out of stock. Amazon has the title on back order with a ship date of two to four weeks.
Publisher Henry & Holt Company had planned a January 9 release. While Trump threatened legal action, demanding that Holt withhold the book, the publisher moved up the release four days to Friday (Jan. 5) due to “overwhelming demand.”