Book details explosive claims about WH dysfunction
Michael Wolff's book on the Trump White House, which is out next week, contains some remarkable assertions, some of which have been published in an excerpt appearing in New York Magazine Thursday -- about the opinion Donald Trump held of his own presidential campaign, the sense in his own social circles of "his wide-ranging ignorance," the broad dysfunction and infighting in the White House, as well as some of the unusual habits he's developed, and a couple of interesting anecotes concerning his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is a close adviser to the president.
Asked by reporters Wednesday about President Trump's reaction to the book, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "I think, furious, disgusted, would probably certainly fit when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president and his family."
Here are some of the highlights so far from Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House:"
Post-election plans didn't include winning: Top campaign advisers Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, also Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Donald Trump himself never "wavered in their certainty" that he would lose. "Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be," Wolff wrote. He reported that Conway was pursuing a permanent on-air job, that Donald Trump was building his brand and floating rumors of a Trump network, and Melania Trump could return to "inconspicuously lunching." "Losing would work out for everybody," Trump believed, according to Wolff.
Just after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when it was beginning to look like Mr. Trump might win, Donald Trump Jr. reportedly said his father "looked as if he had seen a ghost." Melania Trump "was in tears -- and not of joy."
Trump's "ignorance": "He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul. Everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance," Wolff wrote. Campaign aide Sam Nunberg reportedly attempted to explain the Constitution to him and got as far as the Fourth Amendment before Mr. Trump became bored. Disgraced Fox News chief Roger Ailes told him he needed a "son of a b****" as chief of staff, rather than his first preference, Kushner. Conway told him, "You can't just hire your children." Ailes suggested former House Speaker John Boehner. "Who's that?" asked Mr. Trump.
After a phone conversation with the president-elect on visas for high-skilled workers, in which Mr. Trump allegedly claimed that Silicon Valley companies could use his help after the unfavorable Obama years, Wolff says media mogul Rupert Murdoch told him, "Donald, for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don't need your help." Mr. Trump apparently replied that they "really need these H-1B visas." Murdoch, according to Wolff hung up the phone and said, "What a f****** idiot."
Bannon's vision: He had a list of some 200 executive orders for the first 100 days, and the first would be an immigration crackdown. He was able to push through his agenda, Wolff wrote, because none of the top staffers had specific responsibilities.
Trump residence: The president maintains a separate bedroom from his wife, according to Wolff, and he ordered two more TV screens for his bedroom, in addition to the one that was already there. And he had a lock put on the door. No one, wrote Wolff, touches anything. The president even strips his own bed. When he wasn't having a 6:30 p.m. dinner with Bannon in the early days of the administration, he was in bed by then, with a cheeseburger, TVs on, and he was calling his friends.
Ivanka Trump for president: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made a deal that if the opportunity came up, "she'd be the one to run for president. "The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump," Wolff wrote. Bannon's response: "'They didn't say that?" he said. "Stop. Oh, come on. They didn't actually say that? Please don't tell me that. Oh my God.'"
Trump's hair: Ivanka Trump "treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. 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."
Bannon's opinion of Ivanka Trump: The Wall Street Journal, which has obtained the book, said that Bannon says she is as "dumb as a brick."
The White House slammed the book and those who cooperated with Wolff.
"This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House. Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy," Sanders initially said in a statement.