Here are some highlights from the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House“, by the former Guardian columnist and Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff:
- The president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, reportedly made a deal about which of them would one day run for president. Wolff writes: “The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”
- Of Bannon’s activities after leaving the White House, Wolff writes: “Bannon was telling people something else: he, Steve Bannon, was going to run for president. The locution, ‘If I were president …’ was turning into, ‘When I am president …’” Wolff also writes that Bannon has courted top Republican donors, “doing his best, as he put it, to ‘kiss the ass and pay homage to all the gray-beards’”.
- Infighting among staff reportedly often featured a group including Kushner, Ivanka and the economics adviser Gary Cohn against a faction led by Bannon. Wolff quotes Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”
- Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates and was reportedly wanted by Trump to be his chief of staff, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” On Wednesday, Barrack denied saying that.
- Asked by Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes what Trump had “gotten himself into with the Russians”, Wolff writes, Bannon answered: “Mostly, he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”
- In discussing whom to appoint as Trump’s national security adviser, Wolff writes, Ailes promoted the former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, whom he reportedly called “a bomb thrower” and “a strange little fucker”. Bannon, however, reportedly counselled that Bolton’s moustache would be “a problem”.
- No one in the Trump campaign expected to win the presidency, Wolff writes, and most including Trump saw his run as leverage for careers in television or politics. Melania Trump, Wolff claims, was horrified by the prospect of victory. When on election night it became clear Trump could indeed beat Clinton and take the White House, according to the book “Melania was in tears – and not of joy”. The first lady’s communications director rejected that account and said: “The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section.”
- Trump’s first Muslim travel ban, issued to chaos and protest at airports across the US, caused consternation among White House staff. Bannon reportedly said the ban was published late on a Friday precisely to anger and provoke liberals, “so the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot”.
- Trump reportedly argued with the Secret Service over whether he could have a lock on his bedroom – “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms”, Wolff writes – and told housekeeping he would strip his own bed and leave his shirts on the floor. Wolff also says the president, who is known to fear being poisoned, told no one to touch his toothbrush.
- Kushner reportedly offered to marry the TV hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough – then lunch dates for Trump, now regular critics – because he said he was “an internet Unitarian minister”.
- Disloyalty among the president’s staff was reportedly mirrored by the president himself. Wolff says Trump called Bannon disloyal and scruffy, Priebus weak and short, Kushner a suck-up, press secretary Sean Spicer stupid and adviser Kellyanne Conway a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka, the president reportedly said, should never have come to Washington.
Source: Ivanka seeks the presidency – and other big claims from explosive new book. The Guardian, 3 January 2018. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-michael-wolff-book-highlights)
What I understood, after reading comments from Trump supporters, is that this book will do nothing to change their minds. It is like living in a parallel world, where a group of people look at the same thing, and half say “It’s black”, and the other half say, “no, it’s white.” And never the twain shall meet, as they say. However, as in the poem – there is hope:
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!*
When men (humankind) can meet as equals, then “the twain” shall meet. What that says to me, is that inequality is one of the greatest dividers of mankind, and that we have to work tirelessly to encourage equality between races, sexes, religions, and, especially economics. I think that if we can ensure healthcare, education, and fair paying jobs for everyone, we will have erased the barriers between “East” and “West”, and be able to have a more balanced life for everyone. Then the people who support Trump and his incompetent band of profiteers and psychopaths, will wake up and understand how important a strong, stable government is for a prosperous country.
*The Ballad of East and West
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)