The White House is in turmoil following the release of experts from Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” (Henry Holt & Co). From Bannon’s claim that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Don Jr. committed “treasonous” acts to the revelation that Trump never actually wanted to be president, there are plenty of bombshells to parse through from Wolff’s book, which is the result of hundreds of interviews between the author and White House staffers and Trump family members.
In a column for The Hollywood Reporter on January 4, Wolff provides a more in-depth preview of the book, which describes a woefully incompetent Trump and a White House unraveling. With each assertion more disturbing than the last, Wolff’s column paints a horrifying portrait of the Trump Administration. First, consider Trump’s general bearing in the role as president:
Here was a man singularly focused on his own needs for instant gratification, be that a hamburger, a segment on Fox & Friends or an Oval Office photo opp. “I want a win. I want a win. Where’s my win?” he would regularly declaim. He was, in words used by almost every member of the senior staff on repeated occasions, “like a child.”
Yet another stunning revelation is the identity of a key leaker within the White House: Trump himself. As Trump took pleasure watching the cutthroat yelling matches between his own staffers, he would detail the supposed incompetence of his aids over the phone to friends, who would further disseminate the information, broadcasting the chaos and disorganization of the administration far and wide.
The opinions of Trump held by White House staffers, according to Wolff, reveal an utter lack of loyalty and respect, the very stuff that Trump craves the most: “It became almost a kind of competition to demystify Trump. For Rex Tillerson, he was a moron. For Gary Cohn, he was dumb as shit. For H.R. McMaster, he was a hopeless idiot. For Steve Bannon, he had lost his mind.”
Perhaps most worrying, Wolff learned that Trump had begun repeating himself over-and-over again, regurgitating verbatim stories he had just recounted within the timespan of ten minutes. This may very well serve as evidence of a deteriorating mental state.
Wolff noticed one area White House staff could agree on: “Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to [White House staffers] and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe [Trump] was incapable of functioning in his job.”
Trump’s lawyers have filed a cease-and-desist letter in an attempt to prevent the publication of the book. This, of course, dovetails with Trump’s general hostility toward free speech. In Trump’s mind, he – in his limitless sense of privilege – should be able to do whatever he wants and exist within his own self-aggrandized world without the interference of facts or reality.
As the facade of unity, sanity, and competence breaks down in the White House, Trump’s own staffers will find it harder to maintain their public support and praise for the off-the-rails Trump. This administration may be entering its final phase.