Excerpts from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

According to the book, President Trump is variously described as childish, a seducer of friends' wives, an idiot, semi-literate and a dope.
According to the book, President Trump is variously described as childish, a seducer of friends' wives, an idiot, semi-literate and a dope.PHOTO: REUTERS


Even those closest to US President Donald Trump question his intelligence and ability to lead the country, according to author Michael Wolff. He writes:

"Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn't know, did not particularly care, and to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes.

"For (Treasury Secretary) Steve Mnuchin and (former White House chief of staff) Reince Priebus, he was an 'idiot'. For (chief economic adviser) Gary Cohn, he was 'dumb as s***'. For (National Security Adviser) H.R. McMaster he was a 'dope'. The list went on."


"Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump's own behaviour.

"He didn't process information in any conventional sense. He didn't read. He didn't really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate. He trusted his own expertise ­- no matter how paltry or irrelevant - more than anyone else's. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralysed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said (former deputy chief of staff Katie) Walsh, 'like trying to figure out what a child wants.'"


"Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian strongman, ably stroked the president and said, 'You are a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.'

(To Sisi, Trump replied, 'Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man....')"


In President Trump's first trip abroad last May, he visited Saudi Arabia and secured a US$110 billion arms deal for the US. The Saudis threw a US$75 million party in his honour and drove the first family around in gold golf carts, according to the book.

Despite a long-standing relationship with then Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef (referred to as MBN in the book), Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner developed a relationship with 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Wolff writes.

"Within weeks of (Trump's Saudi) trip, MBS, detaining MBN quite in the dead of night, would force him to relinquish the Crown Prince title, which MBS would then assume for himself.

"Trump would tell friends that he and Jared had engineered a Saudi coup: 'We've put our man on top!'"


"Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends' wives into bed.

"In pursuing a friend's wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought.

"Then he'd have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter.

"'Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better f*** than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles at three o'clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise...'

"All the while, Trump would have his friend's wife on the speakerphone, listening in."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 07, 2018, with the headline 'Excerpts from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House'. Print Edition | Subscribe