Excerpts of Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book “Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House” that portray a decidedly unflattering view of President Trump and much of his White House have roiled Washington, D.C., in the first week of 2018.
But even before the book’s official release on Jan. 9, some are calling into question the authenticity of assertions in some of those excerpts.
Wolff, known for his fiery accusations about subjects in publications like Vanity Fair and New York magazine, wrote in a description of the book published in New York magazine Wednesday that he had interviewed more than 200 people for the book, and was given extensive access for months. According to a report in Thursday morning, Wolff recorded dozens of hours of those conversations. Those recordings may back up much of what Wolff has written.
Still, some of the excerpts published in advance are under scrutiny.
After Donald Trump won the presidency, for instance, Wolff describes an exchange in which Mr. Trump appears to not know who former Speaker of the House John Boehner is.
Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chief who has since died, reportedly suggested to Mr. Trump that he select Boehner as his chief of staff.
“Who’s that?” the president-elect asked the day after the election, according to Wolff.
But some pointed out that Mr. Trump played golf with Boehner at his New Jersey course in 2013, and referenced him on Twitter long before the 2016 election in tweets such as this one:
Others suggested Mr. Trump could have been mocking Boehner in some fashion, not questioning his identity.
Some pundits also questioned how Wolff could possibly know what had transpired at a meeting involving Bannon and Ailes. Axios’ Mike Allen said Wolff hosted a small dinner at his home, and that’s how he knew. That small dinner — and the content of the conversation — was confirmed by Janice Min, strategist at Eldridge Industries and part owner of the Hollywood Reporter who says she was at the dinner.
Another excerpt of Wolff’s book claims Fox News personality Sean Hannity expressed his willingness to let the president review questions in advance before interviewing him at an Air National Guard base in Pennsylvania last October, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Hannity, through a spokesperson, flat-out denied that he ever provided any questions in advance.
Wolff also says in the book, according to the Guardian, that one of Mr. Trump’s outside advisers and a close friend, billionaire Thomas Barrack Jr., said of the president, “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.”
However, Barrack denied ever having made the comment. “The quote attributed to me by Michael Wolff is completely and utterly false,” Barrack said in a statement to CBS News. “I have never been interviewed by Michael Wolff, nor did I give him any quotes, nor did he attempt to verify this totally false comment with me. It is clear to anyone who knows me those are not my words, and they are wholly inconsistent with how I talk and feel about the President who is my longtime friend and for whom I have inordinate respect.”
The British publication the Independent claimed Wolff’s book says former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner during the campaign that British spies could have the campaign under surveillance. Blair has since denied the report, calling it a “complete fabrication” through his spokesperson.
An excerpt published in the New Yorker also describes Mr. Trump as dismayed on Election Night by his unexpected victory over Hillary Clinton. Anthony Scaramucci, who was communications director for less than two weeks, disagreed with that claim and the claim that Mr. Trump didn’t know who Boehner was, although Scaramucci was not reported to be present when those events transpired.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed much of Wolff’s book on Wednesday, saying “95 percent” of the interviews were granted by former chief strategist Steve Bannon, whom Mr. Trump disavowed publicly on Wednesday.
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” the president said in a strongly worded statement.
Wolff’s book hit the #1 bestseller spot on Amazon earlier this week, days before its official release.