Fire and Fury was stirring plenty of controversy days before being made available to the public, as egregious excerpts of Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump White House began leaking online earlier this week. The president himself eventually got involved, demanding that Henry Holt and Co. stop publication of the book, with his lawyer citing potential claims for libel. Of course, the publishing company went ahead with releasing it anyway, even bumping up the release date to Friday. (Buy it here.)
Now that the book has been made available in its entirety — you can check out our mostly positive review here — it’s safe to say that the juicy teases to be printed by the likes of New York magazine and The Hollywood Reporter were no fluke. Fire and Fury is filled with bizarre, fascinating, and, well, slightly horrifying details about what went on during the Trump administration’s first year in office, virtually all of which have been strongly denied by Trump and his staff.
Keeping in mind that most of these should be taken with a heavy grain of salt, below, we run down and quote 10 of Wolff’s wildest claims, both already known (and pored over) and yet to be excerpted, from his time in the White House.
Nobody was shy about talking to Wolff
Early on, Wolff actually thanks the Trump advisers and allies who spoke with him, granting them a certain level of appreciation. But given what Wolff quotes in the book, it’s a little strange that people close to the president would be so, erm, candid with him: “For whatever reason, almost everyone I contacted — senior members of the White House staff as well as dedicated observers of it — shared large amounts of time with me and went to great effort to help shed light on the unique nature of life inside the Trump White House. In the end, what I witnessed, and what this book is about, is a group of people who have struggled, each in their own way, to come to terms with the meaning of working for Donald Trump. I owe them an enormous debt.”
Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski had an on-and-off affair
Wolff adds on top of this revelation that after Lewandowski was fired as campaign manager in the summer of 2016, Hicks was upset by its coverage — and Trump wasn’t having it: “Trump, who otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a protective and even paternal way, looked up and said, ‘Why? You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have,’ sending Hicks running from the room.”
Trump exhibited symptoms of deteriorating mental health
As first revealed in a Hollywood Reporter excerpt, Wolff claims the president struggled significantly to recognize old friends and would repeat himself to an alarming degree. “It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes … Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”
Ivanka ‘often described’ the secret to Trump’s hair to ‘friends’
Allow Wolff to explain, keeping in mind she was apparently prone to make fun of the ‘do: “[Ivanka Trump] often described the mechanics behind [her father’s hair] 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.”
Trump once believed a certain son-in-law would make his Russia problems go away
As the Russia controversy continued to mount in the Trump administration, Wolff says the president initially declined to take it seriously; he writes that both Bannon and Roger Ailes, formerly of Fox News, tried to get Trump to realize what kind of trouble he could be in over “money laundering” and other potential issues. “You’ve got to get right on Russia,” Wolff quotes Ailes as telling Trump. “You need to take this seriously, Donald.” And how did the president respond, per Wolff? “Jared has this. It’s all worked out.”
Only women knew how to really handle Trump
At least, that’s what Wolff observed: “[Trump] needed special — extra-special — handling. Women, he explained to one friend with something like self-awareness, generally got this more precisely than men. In particular, women who self-selected themselves as tolerant of or oblivious to or amused by or steeled against his casual misogyny and constant sexual subtext — which was somehow, incongruously and often jarringly, matched with paternal regard — got this.”
Trump had several unusual bedroom fixations (including, yes, cheeseburger consumption)
Wolff describes Trump’s preferences and paranoia when it came to routine bedroom activities: “If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.” He also “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.”
Donald Trump promised Melania he couldn’t win the presidency
Wolff says Donald and Melania Trump sleep in different bedrooms, “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms.” However, he adds: “The notion that this was a marriage in name only was far from true,” explaining that the president craved her approval. The only problem, according to Wolff: She didn’t want him to win the presidency. “He offered his wife a solemn guarantee,” the books says: “There was simply no way he would win. And even for a chronically — he would say helplessly — unfaithful husband, this was one promise to his wife that he seemed sure to keep.” Of course, this didn’t turn out to be so, and on Election Night, Wolff claims Melania was “in tears — and not of joy.”
And Trump didn’t really want to win, either
Wolff claims it was widely known that Trump was “horrified,” “befuddled,” and looked like he’d “seen a ghost” when he won the presidency. The book adds that nobody really expected it: Kellyanne Conway even spent election day on a series of job interviews, according to Wolff, and the author quotes Flynn as telling friends that his taking $45,000 from Russian officials “would only be a problem if we won.”
Everybody cruelly insulted each other
Let’s run down what Wolff says Trump advisers have called the president: “dumb as sh—” (Gary Cohn), “idiot” (Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus), “f—ing idiot” (Rupert Murdoch), “dope” (H.R. McMaster), “child” (Katie Walsh), “9-year-old” (Steve Bannon), and “not only crazy, but stupid” (close Trump friend Thomas Barrack Jr), to name just a few. (While all of these alleged comments have been deemed misquotes by the White House, Walsh and Barrack, particularly, have strongly pushed back on what Wolff claims they said.) And here are some names Trump has called the people in his orbit, according to Wolff: “weak” (Priebus), “midget” (Priebus again), “suck-up” (Jared Kushner), “crybaby” (Kellyanne Conway), “stupid” (Sean Spicer), and perhaps most cruelly, “Uday and Qusay” (his own children, Eric and Donald Jr.).