Publisher hastens book release in defiance of Trump

US President Trump took aim at the book's author, Mr Michael Wolff, and one of his primary sources, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
US President Trump took aim at the book's author, Mr Michael Wolff, and one of his primary sources, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.PHOTO: AFP

Firm ignores President's demand to stop publication of book that portrays him as a volatile, ill-equipped leader

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump threatened legal fire and fury on Thursday in an effort to block a new book portraying him as a volatile and ill-equipped chief executive, but the publisher defied his demand to halt its release and instead moved up its publication to yesterday because of soaring interest.

Angry at the publisher's refusal to back down, Mr Trump took aim late on Thursday at the book's author, Mr Michael Wolff, and one of his primary sources, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, whose derisive comments about the President and his family stirred deep resentment in the Oval Office.

"I authorised zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phoney book!

"I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist. Look at this guy's past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!"

The President's blast at Mr Wolff came at the end of a day in which Mr Trump's effort to stop the publication failed.

In an 11-page letter sent in the morning, a lawyer for the President said the book, "Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House, as excerpted in a magazine article, includes false statements about Mr Trump that "give rise to claims for libel" that could result in "substantial monetary damages and punitive damages".

"Mr Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book, the article or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the book and article that lack competent evidentiary support," the letter said.

Undeterred, Henry Holt and Co, the publisher, announced that it was making the book available for sale from 9am yesterday, rather than wait for its original release date on Tuesday.

"We see Fire And Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse and are proceeding with the publication of the book," the company said in a statement.

The book infuriated Mr Trump in part by quoting Mr Bannon making derogatory comments about the President's children. Mr Bannon was quoted as saying that Mr Donald Trump Jr had been "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" in meeting Russians during the 2016 campaign, and that Ms Ivanka Trump was "dumb as a brick".

Mr Trump fired back on Wednesday, saying that Mr Bannon had "lost his mind" and had "nothing to do with me or my presidency".

The BBC reported yesterday that dozens of people had already queued up in Washington for the late night release of the book.

Mr Trump's spokesman had made clear he wanted Mr Bannon punished for his disloyalty.

Asked at her daily briefing whether Breitbart News, for which Mr Bannon works, should fire him, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "I certainly think that it is something they should look at and consider."

NYTIMES

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'Publisher hastens book release in defiance of Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe