Michael Wolff's 'Fire And Fury' - Inside the Trump White House, Part 1

We've been devouring this book this week.

Wolff was allowed access to the West Wing of the White House, conducting research for his book through interviews and as a "fly on the wall" observer.

He conducted over 200 interviews with Trump and his associates - including senior staff - and was allowed to witness events at the White House without his presence even being managed.

A decision Trump has come to rue, after his attempt to stop publication failed.

Some choice excerpts follow, with our source links, and our clarifications in []s.

Roger Ailes [CEO of Fox News who resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct] to 'Strategist' Steve Bannon ...
"I’ll call him [Trump],” said Ailes.

“But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert [Murdoch]. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down.

I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.”

On the Mercers (and thus, Cambridge Analytica) involvement ...
The right-wing billionaire Bob Mercer, a [Rival Republican Candidate] Ted Cruz backer, had shifted his support to Trump with a $5 million infusion.

Believing the campaign was cratering, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah took a helicopter from their Long Island estate out to a scheduled fundraiser—with other potential donors bailing by the second—at New York Jets owner and Johnson & Johnson heir Woody Johnson’s summer house in the Hamptons.

Trump had no real relationship with either father or daughter. He’d had only a few conversations with Bob Mercer, who mostly talked in monosyllables; Rebekah Mercer’s entire history with Trump consisted of a selfie taken with him at Trump Tower.

But when the Mercers presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.”

Political Advisor Sam Nunberg on the Trump attention span ...
[Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate]
“I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Why the Republican's even let Trump run at all ...
Modern politicians and their staffs perform their most consequential piece of opposition research on themselves. If the Trump team had vetted their candidate, they would have reasonably concluded that heightened ethical scrutiny could easily put them in jeopardy.

But Trump pointedly performed no such effort. [Political Consultant] Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime political adviser, explained to Steve Bannon that Trump’s psychic makeup made it impossible for him to take such a close look at himself. Nor could he tolerate knowing that somebody else would then know a lot about him—and therefore have something over him.

And anyway, why take such a close and potentially threatening look, because what were the chances of winning?
[Stone has affiliations with conspiracy sites Infowars and Breitbart. Subsequently, Stone's Twitter account was suspended by Twitter for what it called "targeted abuse" of various CNN personnel in a series of derogatory, threatening and obscenity-filled tweets.]

Trump never planned to win, here's why he ran ... 
Trump would be the most famous man in the world—a martyr to 'crooked' Hillary Clinton.
His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared [Kushner] would have transformed themselves from relatively obscure rich kids into international celebrities and brand ambassadors.

Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the Tea Party movement.

Kellyanne Conway would be a cable news star.

Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh would get their Republican Party back.

Melania Trump could return to inconspicuously lunching.

That was the trouble-free outcome they awaited on November 8, 2016. Losing would work out for everybody.

And what happened when Trump won ... 
Steve Bannon : "Shortly after eight o’clock that evening, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he called him, looked as if he had seen a ghost.

Melania, to whom Donald Trump had made his solemn guarantee [that he wouldn't win], was in tears — and not of joy.

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a quite horrified Trump.

But still to come was the final transformation: suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be and was wholly capable of being the president of the United States.

And how his team reacted ... 
Almost all the professionals who were now set to join him were coming face to face with the fact that it appeared he knew nothing.

There was simply no subject, other than perhaps building construction, that he had substantially mastered. Everything with him was off the cuff. Whatever he knew he seemed to have learned an hour before—and that was mostly half-baked. But each member of the new Trump team was convincing him- or herself otherwise — because what did they know, the man had been elected president.

He offered something, obviously. Indeed, while everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance — Trump, the businessman, could not even read a balance sheet, and Trump, who had campaigned on his deal-making skills, was, with his inattention to details, a terrible negotiator — they yet found him somehow instinctive. That was the word.

And on Trump's Hiring Policy ... 
Reince Priebus [appointed Chief of Staff], getting ready to shift over from the RNC to the White House, noted, with alarm, how often Trump offered people jobs on the spot, many of whom he had never met before, for positions whose importance Trump did not particularly understand.

More to come as we work through it. It's an excellent read. And now we hear it's to become a TV Series.