A bombshell book about Donald Trump and his first year in office paints an unflattering portrait of a man who never wanted to be president.
“Fire and Fury,” a stunning expose from author Michael Wolff, details inner-circle secrets from Trump’s campaign and White House aides. It hits the shelves Jan. 9 — but early excerpts released Wednesday created an immediate furor.
Based on more than 200 interviews with current and former Trump confidants and staff, “Fire and Fury” showcases the president as a fame-hungry dilettante wholly uninterested in the complexities of his job.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the book as a work of fiction “filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access of influence with the White House.”
The New York Daily News received a copy. Here’s a look at some of the juiciest claims peppered throughout “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Trump didn’t expect to win the presidency
Trump’s “ultimate goal” had never been to win the Oval Office, Wolff said. But he was excited about the exposure and opportunities to develop his brand.
With encouragement from his longtime pal and former Fox News head Roger Ailes, Trump even flirted with the idea of starting his own television network.
“Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching,” Wolff said.
First daughter for president
Ivanka Trump followed her dad to the White House as an unpaid adviser with husband, Jared Kushner.
“The (couple) had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president,” Wolff wrote. “The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”
“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,” former aide Sam Nunberg told Wolff about the time he was sent to explain the Constitution to Trump early in the campaign.
“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,” Wolff wrote.
Bannon and the Russia probe
President Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, described a controversial meeting of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” to Wolff.
The former Breitbart head also told Wolff he expected investigators in the Russia probe to “crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV.”
Bannon also believed that Don Jr. had taken the Russian lawyer — who was peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton — up to the 26th floor of Trump Tower to meet his dad, Wolff wrote.
“Steve Bannon was certain that after the [July 2016 Trump Tower] meeting, Trump, Jr. had taken the participants to see his father,” Wolff said.
The president has said he was unaware any meeting with Russians took place.
Trump called his former acting attorney general a “c—” when she refused to have the Justice Department uphold his travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, Wolff said.
“Trump conceived an early, obsessive antipathy for Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. She was, he steamed, ‘such a c—,’” the journalist’s book said.
Trump had a trick he used when he wanted to pursue friend’s wives, according to Wolff.
“Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed. In pursuing a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought. Then he’d have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter. ‘Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better f— than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles at three o’clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise …’ All the while, Trump would have his friend’s wife on the speakerphone, listening in,” Wolff wrote.
Top Trump staffers expressed their doubts about his intelligence with colorful adjectives, Wolff said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron” last year.
“For (Treasury Secretary) Steve Mnuchin and (former Trump White House chief of staff) Reince Priebus, the president was an ‘idiot.’ For (former Goldman Sachs exec) Gary Cohn, he was ‘dumb as sh-t.’ For (National Security Adviser) H.R. McMaster he was a ‘dope.’ The list went on,” Wolff said.
Wolff had a lot to say about the head of Trump’s National Economic Council and quoted from an email “purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn” that circulated in the White House in April.
“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 p—k who thinks he’s smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits … I am in a constant state of terror and shock,” the email said, according to “Fire and Fury.”
Even media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a Trump supporter, hung up the phone after a conversation with the president about H-1B visas for select immigrants and said, “What a f—ing idiot,” Wolff wrote.
Trump didn’t know who John Boehner was
Ailes, who often whispered advice in Trump’s ear, encouraged him to pick a “son of a b—h as” his chief of staff, offering former Speaker of the House John Boehner as a suggestion.
Trump reportedly responded: “Who’s that?”
Trump eats fast food out of fear
“He had a longtime fear of being poisoned,” Wolff wrote, “one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.”
Wolff said the fear also has Trump stripping down his own bed and he’s ordered housekeeping not to touch his toothbrush and other personal belongings.
Trump also has his own bedroom at his D.C. lodgings, marking “the first time since the Kennedy White house that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms,” Wolff said.
Dutiful daughter Ivanka wasn’t above a chortle with her friends about her father’s infamous orange comb-over.
“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 color,” according to page 79 of “Fire and Fury.”
Schladebeck and Adams Otis write for the New York Daily News.