A new book, “Fire and Fury”
by Michael Wolff, set for imminent release, has been previewed by the BBC, is an inside look at the first few months of the Trump presidency and contains a series of bombshells and embarrassing anecdotes that have Donald Trump and the White House already on the defensive.
We’ll discuss a small sample of the excerpts, which include Trump’s description of an administration official as a “cunt”, his daughter Ivanka’s presidential ambitions and Rupert Murdoch’s personal assessment of Trump.
Donald the Dotard
It’s no great secret that Donald Trump has no interest in educating himself on anything that doesn’t interest him – even essential things he needs to become informed on. Ignorance is to Trump, a virtue.
Aside from disdaining daily intelligence briefings, the Constitution is also no exception. Presidential aide Sam Nunberg, tried to give Trump a briefing on the Constitution:
“I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” Nunberg recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”
Elsewhere in the book, Gary Cohn, Trump’s Chief White House Economic Advisor, echoes what numerous others have observed about – to put it mildly, Trump’s intellectual deficits and his lack of intellectual curiosity:
“It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything – not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I’m the only person there with a clue what he’s doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”
Bannon predicted the unraveling of the Trump presidency
First and foremost, the book reveals the extent to which the relationship between Steve Bannon and the president has disintegrated. Bannon told the author in interviews for the book, that concerning the president’s son’s meeting with Russian operatives:
“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 shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Of the likely consequences, Bannon adds – “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” Evidently Bannon and I are on the same page with each other on at least one aspect of Trump’s Russian problems. He sees money laundering as the Donald’s eventual Waterloo.
Trump found winning unexpected and a nuisance
Wolff’ describes Trump’s mood about the various aspects of the inauguration, including Melania’s disappointment in the whole turn of events in these terms, based on interviews he conducted:
“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”
On the other hand – the First Lady’s public relations spokeshole, Stephanie Grisham, not surprisingly, spins the response that, “Mrs Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.”
Next, we find out that the price of the humiliating dalliance for Trump’s daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, was the prospect of a future run by Ivanka for the presidency:
“Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. 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. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”
When Steve Bannon found out about the arrangement, he was gobsmacked. ‘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!.'” Yeah Steve, WTF?
No one had a plan
The book exposes the fact that aside from the voluminous pledges Trump made during the campaign rallies, that very little thought on his part or his close advisers had been given to what a first year agenda would consist of.
Jared Kushner was polled by the White House deputy chief of staff, Katie Walsh, to outline a handful of policy objectives at the top of Trump’s inbox. Wolff describes the exchange:
“‘Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,’ she [Katie Walsh] demanded. ‘What are the three priorities of this White House?’ It was the most basic question imaginable – one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer. ‘Yes,’ he said to Walsh. ‘We should probably have that conversation.'”
The author recounts the upshot of a telephone call between media mogul (and owner of Trump’s propaganda blowtorch, Fox News), Rupert Murdoch and Trump in which one of the topics centered on Silicon Valley and other tech based industry’s copious use of H1-B Visas to import lower wage tech workers from South Asia.
Murdoch warned the president that reversing his position on the Visas would appear contradictory to all the rest of Trump’s overheated campaign rhetoric about the wall and immigration enforcement. Lacking an answer to Murdoch’s deduction of the matter, Trump could only respond, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ‘What a fucking idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.”
Trump’s disdain for the White House
It has been previously disclosed that Trump feels that he is a sort of prisoner in the White House – hence his habit of spending as little time in it as possible and that he has told colleagues that he considers the presidential residence to be “a dump” compared to Mar Al Lago, his estate in Florida. In the book, Wolff presents an account of Trump’s habits as they relate to 1600 Pennsylvania:
“Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: ‘If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.’ Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (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 premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.”
Another revelation in the book, that will likely not surprise anyone who listened to the entire exchange between Trump and Billy Bush on the “Access Hollywood” tape and the salacious back and forth salvos with Howard Stern, is that Trump frequently displays his complex misogyny in conversations with male colleagues.
Trump, the author discovered, referred to the woman he early on fired for raising the question of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s potential legal liabilities – Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, as “such a cunt”.
Trump, in response to the book, has in effect, declared war on his former confidant, Steve Bannon, with a series of belittling comments regarding him including, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said in the statement. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
Nothing could be more ironic than Donald Trump projecting outward that anyone else has lost their mind.