Having already sparked a legal battle between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon over comments in his new White House tell-all, Michael Wolff returned Thursday with more explosive insights into the chaotic first year of the Trump administration.
The Hollywood Reporter published an extracted column about Wolff’s 18 months inside the White House, based on the reporting included in the book “Fire and Fury.” It describes a West Wing in complete chaos, where in-fighting and backstabbing are daily occurrences and where more and more people believe the U.S. president is incapable of doing his job.
On Wednesday the Guardian published excerpts including comments from Steve Bannon claiming a meeting between Trump’s son and a Russian lawyer was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Trump has hit back at the comments, accusing Bannon of “losing his mind” and issuing legal threats against his former chief strategist for allegedly violating the nondisclosure agreement everyone working in Trump’s White House has to sign.
Here are 12 of the more noteworthy things reported in Wolff’s column:
Trump can’t do the job — According to Wolff, Trump is increasingly repeating stories and is having trouble recognizing people. “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year , a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.” Ultimately, Wolff concludes, Trump is viewed by even his closest allies, staff, and family as “incapable of functioning in his job.”
"He's just a fucking fool" — A quote ascribed by Wolff to longtime Trump staffer Sam Nunberg, trying to explain the U.S. president to confused West Wingers who were trying to understand their new boss.
Trump tried to lock himself into his bedroom — Trump was so surprised to find himself living in the White House, that in a bid to regain some control, he tried to barricade himself into his bedroom with his own lock, over the protests of the Secret Service.
Bannon opened a book on Trump’s resignation — “Bannon was openly handicapping a 33.3 percent chance of impeachment, a 33.3 percent chance of resignation in the shadow of the 25th amendment and a 33.3 percent chance that he might limp to the finish line on the strength of liberal arrogance and weakness.”
Hannity provided questions in advance — According to the piece, Fox News host Sean Hannity was “willing to supply the questions” ahead of his interview with the president in October, and communications director Hope Hicks planned “to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.”
Through a spokesperson Hannity said Wolff's accounts are completely inaccurate. "I never provided questions ahead of time to President Trump and never said I was going to quit my longtime, successful TV and radio career to work for his administration," he said.
It’s not clear Wolff actually had permission to be in the White House — Wolff says he floated the idea of writing a fly-on-the-wall style book to the president, but Trump didn’t seem to have much interest. But, Wolff says, Trump’s “non-disapproval became a kind of passport” which found him “plunking myself down, day after day, on a West Wing couch.”
"You can't make this shit up," — This was what then-press secretary Sean Spicer muttered to himself after the opening press briefing of the new administration, where he had to justify the president's inaugural crowd numbers. Spicer soon adopted the phrase as “a personal mantra” Wolff says.
Hope Hicks was the “real daughter” — With Melania a nonexistent presence in the West Wing, staffers took to referring to Ivanka as the “real wife” while Hicks was called the "real daughter."
Nobody likes Trump — The piece is replete with insults directed at the president by staffers. There include Rex Tillerson calling him a moron; Gary Cohn calling him “dumb as shit”; H.R. McMaster saying he was “a hopeless idiot”; and, ironically, Bannon saying Trump had “lost his mind.”
No one wanted to represent Trump — Wolff says that at least “nine major law firms had turned down an invitation to represent the president” when faced with the investigation into collusion between his campaign and Russia.
“It's a littleee, littleee complicated …" — How Trump tried to explain to Reince Priebus why he needed to give his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, official jobs.
Trump was the source of the leaks — Trump liked to retire to the bedroom after dinner and conduct a daily round of phone calls to his billionaire friends about the disloyalty and incompetence around him. “His billionaire friends then shared this with their billionaire friends, creating the endless leaks which the president so furiously railed against.”