Donald Trump has complained bitterly about leaks coming out of his White House over the past year, but Michael Wolff’s new bombshell of a book says some of the most prolific leakers in the early Trump administration were none other than the president’s closest advisers — and Trump himself.
In the first few months of Trump’s presidency, as son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and chief strategist Steve Bannon vied ruthlessly for Trump’s attention, they often used the media as a means of getting it — a method that was effective that way but also enraged Trump and career White House staff. And while everyone was leaking, the “juiciest” ones came from the highest-ranking members of Trump’s White House, according to Wolff in the tell-all “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
The power struggles within the administration had led to paralysis, Wolff writes, and, to break the stalemate, Bannon would have someone like Rebekah Mercer (a prominent GOP donor) phone Trump at an opportune moment. Kushner would counter by arranging a call with Rupert Murdoch. But when all else failed, they’d make calls to media.
“Kushner’s preferred outlet was Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski’s ‘Morning Joe,’ one of the president’s certain morning shows,” writes Wolff. Bannon preferred his native alt-right media, and maintained an “off-balance-sheet” communications staff of people like David Bossie, the chairman of Citizens United; Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s own former campaign manager; and Alexandra Preate, Breitbart and Bannon’s personal spokesperson.
“Everybody was a leaker,” Wolff continues. “In this, at least, Trump’s administration was achieving a landmark transparency.”
And when it wasn’t his staff doing the leaking, Wolff claims it was Trump himself. At the end of a long day, the president would find himself disgruntled and upset after consuming his daily diet of cable news. He would hole up in his bedroom and call friends to vent about the media and his staff.
“When the president got on the phone after dinner, it was often a rambling affair,” Wolff writes. “In paranoid or sadistic fashion, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff.”
Because the conversation was so strange and disjointed, the people Trump spoke to would often find themselves relaying conversations, which might otherwise have been considered confidential, to others. In that way, according to Wolff, “the inner workings of the White House went into free circulation. Except it was not so much the inner workings of the White House—although it would often be reported as such—but the perambulations of the president’s mind, which changed direction almost as fast as he could express himself.”
The White House, unsurprisingly, isn’t promoting Wolff’s book in the West Wing Reads section of WhiteHouse.gov — though Wolff, on the Today Show, thanked Trump for the great publicity when he tried to stop the book’s release via a cease-and-desist letter to Wolf and his publisher Thursday. “Where do I send the box of chocolates?” Wolff quipped.