‘White House ex­pose has got un­der Don­ald Trump’s skin’

Irish Examiner - - News - Dan Buck­ley

US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump may be on the verge of a ner­vous break­down, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor of an in­cen­di­ary book about him, Fire & Fury.

Ac­cord­ing to jour­nal­ist Michael Wolff, the book has “got­ten un­der the skin” of Mr Trump, who sees it as a mor­tal threat to his term in the White House.

“Rather than prov­ing that he is a sta­ble ge­nius, it rather looks like he might be crack­ing up,” Mr Wolff told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Ra­dio 1.

How­ever, he added: “I can’t get rid of the pres­i­dent for peo­ple.”

Mr Wolff said he has dozens of hours of tape record­ings and notes from in­ter­views with se­nior White House of­fi­cials, mak­ing it harder for them to deny em­bar­rass­ing or re­veal­ing quotes at­trib­uted to them.

Although Mr Wolff promised to pro­tect the anonymity of those who gave him in­ter­views off the record, he is keep­ing his op­tions open. He said he has tapes with peo­ple who he has “ab­so­lutely sworn to pro­tect”, so he doesn’t know if he’ll re­lease some of the tapes, but is think­ing about it.

“I do have tapes of many, many peo­ple, so why not re­lease them?” he said.

Among the sources he taped is Steve Bannon, who served as White House chief strate­gist dur­ing the first seven months of Mr Trump’s term. Mr Wolff also spent many hours in pri­vate ar­eas of the West Wing, in­clud­ing the of­fice of Reince Priebus, when he was chief of staff.

Mr Wolff ap­proached Mr Bannon about writ­ing a book, but says that Mr Bannon thought he was ap­ply­ing for a job. When Mr Bannon un­der­stood, Mr Wolff said Mr Bannon sort of shrugged his shoul­ders, as if to say “knock your­self out”.

“He cer­tainly didn’t ob­ject when I showed up at the White House and started mak­ing ap­point­ments with se­nior staff,” said Mr Wolff. “Steve had come to think of the pres­i­dent as quite an id­iot.”

Mr Bannon this week left his role as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Bre­it­bart News af­ter re­marks he had made, about Mr Trump’s chil­dren ap­peared in the book. Among other com­ments, which he later apol­o­gised for, Mr Bannon had sug­gested a meet­ing in­volv­ing Don­ald Trump Jr and a Rus­sian lawyer had been “trea­sonous”.

Mr Bannon has since said that he was not re­fer­ring to Mr Trump’s son, but Mr Wolff in­sisted that he did not mis­rep­re­sent him.

“Ab­so­lutely, without ques­tion, not,” he said. “I am fond of Steve and re­spects his in­sights, de­pended on them in many in­stances. This has put him in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. He did not deny any­thing he told me.”

Mr Wolff said his view of the White House was of “ev­ery­one com­ing to the con­clu­sion that Don­ald Trump did not have the fa­cil­ity to func­tion in this job”. He also wit­nessed a paral­ysed and chaotic ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The chaos pre­vents him from do­ing any­thing much, be­cause he can’t get out of his own way,” he said. “He’s done much less wrong than we might have thought, be­cause he can’t get out of his own way. He prob­a­bly didn’t plan on do­ing very much.”

Mr Wolff said he felt that, as an out­sider, po­lit­i­cal re­porters were re­sent­ful to­ward him for hav­ing pub­lished the book.

Michael Wolff says he has hours of White House in­ter­views.

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