WASHINGTON - A portrait of the Trump presidency in a forthcoming book, Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, roiled the White House on Wednesday (Jan 3) and caused a public split between President Donald Trump and his former chief strategist and far-right campaign architect Steve Bannon.
The national news coverage of the book's revelations - including shocking quotes from Bannon - sent the book soaring on Amazon.com, according to CNN. It is ranked No. 1 on the site's best-selling books list.
Here are excerpts from the book, due to be released on Jan 9.
1. TRUMP NEVER THOUGHT HE WOULD WIN
"As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win... 'This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,' he told (former Fox News chief Roger) Ailes a week before the election. 'I don't think about losing, because it isn't losing. We've totally won.'"
"Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared (Kushner) would be international celebrities. 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."
2. TRUMP GAVE LOW MARKS TO OWN TEAM
"The leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was and how everybody involved in it was a loser. He was equally convinced that rival Hillary Clinton's people were brilliant winners – 'They’ve got the best and we’ve got the worst,' he frequently said."
“When he got on the phone after dinner, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like sh*t). (Chief of staff Rence) Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short – a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. (White House spokesman) Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). (Senior adviser Kellyanne) Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.”
It appears that looks matter to Trump. Wolff writes that one of the reasons Trump did not want John Bolton, a famously hawkish diplomat, as his national security adviser, was his moustache. "Bolton's moustache is a problem," Wolff quotes Bannon saying. "Trump doesn't think he looks the part."
3. MELANIA IN TEARS, TRUMP 'BEFUDDLED' BY WIN
"Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend – Trump might actually win – seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania 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 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."
4. MELANIE DREADED BECOMING FIRST LADY
"The New York Post got its hands on outtakes from a nude photo shoot that Melania had done early in her modeling career — a leak that everybody other than Melania assumed could be traced back to Trump himself. Inconsolable, she confronted her husband. Is this the future? She told him she wouldn’t be able to take it. Trump responded in his fashion — We’ll sue! — and set her up with lawyers."
"But he was uncharacteristically contrite, too. Just a little longer, he told her. It would all be over in November. He offered his wife a solemn guarantee: There was simply no way he would win."
5. TRUMP FINDS WHITE HOUSE 'A LITTLE SCARY'
Trump found White House "scary", writes Wolff.
"Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom – the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room."
6. TRUMP FEARS BEING POISONED
"Trump eats McDonald's because he thinks the food is safe: He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made."
7. TRUMP ANGRY A-STAR CELEBRITIES SNUBBED HIS INAUGURATION
"Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed."
Trump marks his first year in office on Jan 20.
8. TRUMP'S OBSESSION WITH MURDOCH, WHO CALLS HIM 'IDIOT'
“Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. ‘He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,’ Trump said. ‘You have to stay to see him.’ Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.”
In a call between both men about Trump's meeting with Silicon Valley executives, Trump is said to have told Murdoch: "These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them."
"'Donald,' said Murdoch, 'for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don't need your help.' 'Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.' Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders.
"But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, 'We'll figure it out.' 'What a f****** idiot,' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone."
9. IVANKA WANTS TO BE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT
"Balancing risk against reward, both Jared (Kushner) and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump."
10. IVANKA MOCKS HER FATHER'S HAIR
Ivanka poked fun at her father's alleged "scalp-reduction surgery", according to the book.
"She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. 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."
11. BANNON ON TRUMP JR: 'THEY'RE GOING TO CRACK HIM LIKE AN EGG'
Steve Bannon is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump's son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. They had been told that the Russians have incriminating material on Hillary Clinton.
The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: "The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers.
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad sh*t, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."
According to the book, Bannon was incredulous about the meeting shortly after it was revealed, concluding sarcastically, “That’s the brain trust they had.”
Bannon went on to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up "in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people".
Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. "The chance that Don Jr did not walk these Jumos up to his father's office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero."
On the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged collusion with the Kremlin to get Trump elected, Bannon predicted: "They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV."
He said that the investigation will focus on money laundering.
“You realise where this is going,” Bannon said of the probe by special counsel Mueller.
“This is all about money-laundering.
“Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner... It’s as plain as a hair on your face,” he said.
“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s**t... The Kushner s**t is greasy. They’re going to go right through that.”
12. FLYNN KNEW THAT RUSSIAN TIES COULD BE PROBLEMATIC
Former US National Security adviser Mike Flynn knew that accepting money from Moscow for a speech could come back to haunt him, according to the book.
Wolff writes that before the election, Flynn "had been told by friends that it had not been a good idea to take US$45,000 ($59,869) from the Russians for a speech. 'Well it would only be a problem if we won,' he assured them".
Flynn has been indicted in the Justice Department special counsel's inquiry.
13. BANNON COMPARES CHINA TO NAZI GERMANY
“The real enemy, (Bannon) said, was China.
"China was the first front in a new Cold War. China’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’t get China right, we don’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’re not. And they’re gonna flip like Germany in the ‘30s. You’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
SOURCES: Reuters, The Guardian, BBC News, Washington Post, Agence France-Presse