Michael Wolff’s book detailing the turmoil within the White House during the first year Donald Trump’s presidency is set to be published on Monday, but explosive excerpts and the book’s juiciest details are already online.
From former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s criticism and mockery of the president — before and after his firing — to the political aspirations of Ivanka Trump, to Trump’s fear of being poisoned, here are nine surprising details from excerpts and quotes of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” published in New York magazine, The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Everyone thought Trump would lose the election, including Trump himself.
According to Wolff, Trump didn’t want to become president. The ultimate goal of his bid for the White House was to become a “martyr” to Hillary Clinton and to become “the most famous man in the world.”
For those involved in his campaign, the goal was to lose by as small a margin as possible and then, after November, parlay their raised national profiles into bigger and better opportunities.
“His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities,” Wolff wrote. “Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the Tea Party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”
Roger Ailes turned down chance to manage the campaign.
Much of Wolff’s book is dedicated to detailing how difficult it is for Trump’s advisers to manage his attention and influence his decisions. Former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh told Wolff that trying to follow Trump’s decision-making process was “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
It’s for this reason why former Fox News executive Roger Ailes turned down an offer to take over the floundering campaign before his death.
“In early August , less than a month after Ailes had been ousted from Fox News, Trump asked his old friend to take over the management of his calamitous campaign,” Wolff wrote. “Ailes, knowing Trump’s disinclination to take advice, or even listen to it, turned him down.”
Trump didn’t know who John Boehner was.
With no desire to win the White House, Trump had little plan for how to proceed with his post-election transition. Ailes, a longtime friend and confidante, recommended former House Speaker John Boehner to serve as his chief of staff. To which Trump replied: “Who’s that?”
Rupert Murdoch called Trump a “f—ing idiot.”
Murdoch “had long disdained [Trump] as a charlatan and fool,” but once he became president Trump frequently turned to the media mogul for counsel, according to Wolff.
After a pre-inauguration meeting with Silicon Valley executives, Trump called Murdoch to brag that the tech execs “really need my help.” Murdoch replied, “Donald, for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”
“What a fucking idiot,” Murdoch said after they got off the phone.
Trump strips his own bed.
Compared to past presidents, Trump was unmoved by the palatial elements and large White House staff, Wolff wrote. In fact, the self-described billionaire preferred his own lavish lifestyle at Trump Tower, which was more tailored to his liking.
In order to accommodate his wishes, three TVs were installed in his bedroom (separate from First Lady Melania Trump) and staff were instructed to not clean up after him. “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor,” he told housekeeping staff. Trump also decides when his sheets will be cleaned, and strips them from the bed himself.
He eats McDonald’s for fear of poison.
Another one of Trump’s rules for housekeeping staff is the strict instruction that no one should ever touch his toothbrush. The president reportedly has a fear of being poisoned and will not let even his own staff touch something that goes in his mouth.
This is the same reason he so frequently eats McDonald’s, Wolff wrote, “nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.”
Ivanka Trump has her own political ambitions.
Bannon reportedly took to calling the First Daughter and her husband “Jarvanka” for the way the couple played off one another, according to Wolff. The couple’s influence over the president put them at odds with Bannon and chief of staff Reince Preibus during the early days of the administration, but Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were thinking far beyond their father’s term in office.
Both Ivanka and Kushner accepted formal jobs in the White House, hoping that would boost their own future careers. The couple made a deal that if the chance should arise, Ivanka would be the one to run for president.
Even Ivanka makes fun of his hair.
According to Wolff, even Trump’s daughter has mocked his hair privately to friends and associates:
“She often described the mechanics behind it 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. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.”
Bannon thinks Trump Tower meeting was “treasonous.”
A 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian officials was described as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” by Bannon in an on-the-record quote to Wolff. “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” he said, referring to the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said, slamming Trump Jr. for failing to have lawyers at the meeting.
Trump issued a statement in response to Bannon’s quotes, insisting that his former chief strategist “has nothing to do with” his presidency and would not be in a position to speak authoritatively on the subject.
“When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” the president said, later adding, “Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.”