From Donald Trump's plan to lose, paranoia about being poisoned, and the secret of what's under that hair, it's the juiciest political expose of the year.
It's the book that broke the White House, and it's not even out yet! After spending 18 months with the Trump campaign and then the Trump administration, Michael Wolff penned "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," but the only fire and fury he's seeing so far is from the subject of the book himself, Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, excerpts from the book were published by New York Magazine and The Guardian, followed by an essay Wolff wrote for The Hollywood Reporter. Former campaign CEO Steve Bannon reportedly had the harshest words for Trump and his senior advisors in the book, including suggesting that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort committed treason by meeting with Russia in Trump Tower. Further, the book alleges Bannon believes Trump had to have known about it, and may have been introduced to them as well.
The stories quickly led to a scathing retort from the president Wednesday night where he minimized his former chief strategist's role in his campaign and administration, calling him merely a "staffer" and writing, "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind." Trump followed this with a legal cease-and-desist order (which can be seen in its entirety at ABC News) in an attempt to bar publication of the book, which is scheduled to hit store shelves on Jan. 9.
According to Wolff, every single person associated with the campaign ultimately came to the conclusion that Trump was at best "like a child," with the few who are left from that regime still trying to figure out how to work with him.
Below are the 14 most shocking, frustrating and hilarious allegations about the Trump administration, as perceived by Michael Wolff, who never did figure out quite how the Trump administration works.
Wolff Was Accidentally Given Almost Unprecedented Access
As a testament to how unstructured Trump and his organization was, Wolff was given extraordinary access to the inner workings almost by accident. When he asked about being allowed to linger and listen in for a book, Trump talked about right-wing author Ed Klein and didn't outright deny his request. "His non-disapproval became a kind of passport for me to hang around ... plunking myself down, day after day, on a West Wing couch," Wolff wrote in The Hollywood Reporter.
Trump Refused to Invest in His Campaign
Bannon and Kellyanne Conway were allegedly inserted into the Trump campaign at the behest of billionaire Robert Mercer, after infusing $5 million into the campaign. Right away, Bannon noted that Trump had not contributed to his own campaign. When he determined it needed $50 million to make it to election day, he had to settle for $10 million from Trump, provided he was repaid as soon as that money could be raised from others. It says a lot when a self-claimed multi-billionaire isn't willing to invest in his own campaign.
Trump Campaign Wanted to Lose to Win
The plan all along was to lose, but to win by doing so, which would explain why Trump had little interest in personally investing in a losing cause. According to Wolff, Trump wanted to launch his own television network, while his cronies could reap their own rewards. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner would be huge celebrities, Conway was looking to be on-air with cable news, and Bannon was poised to emerge as the new leader of the far-right Tea Party. Instead, they found themselves at the Oval Office with no idea what to do next.
Trump Didn't Know the Constitution
Early in the campaign, Trump aide Sam Nunberg was supposedly tasked with explaining the U.S. Constitution to the future president. "I got as far as the Four Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head," Nunberg told Wolff.
Trump Was Woefully Uninformed About Washington, DC
When former Speaker of the House John Boehner was suggested as a solid candidate for chief of staff by longtime Trump friend Roger Ailes (also former head of Fox News and veteran of Nixon, Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, so he has some idea how politics works), Trump allegedly responded, "Who's that?" Considering that Beohener was one of the most well-known members of the Republican Party and a very public rival to President Obama through much of his time in office, one would think Donald Trump would know who this guy is.
Trump Repeats Himself a Lot And Also Repeats Himself
If it sounds like Trump brings out the same talking points over and over again in public speeches, Wolff says it's even worse in person. When approached for the chief of staff position, Rience Priebus had been warned how by a Trump associate how to talk to the then president-elect. "In an hour meeting with him, you're going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they're going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can."
Bannon's Plan Was Chaos And Division
Most of Trump's staff in the early days didn't really have titles or official positions, so Bannon set to work pushing forth his plan for the first 100 days. "Chaos was Steve's strategy," said deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh. His first victory came with Trump signing the controversial Muslim travel ban executive order. As Bannon anticipated, liberal media exploded, creating a wider rift between the left and the right.
'Jarvanka' Are Angling for President Ivanka
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump defied the advice of everyone they knew to take roles in the Trump administration. Their plan was to allegedly set Ivanka up for a future run for president. "They didn't say that?” Bannon said when he heard of the plan. "Stop. Oh, come on. They didn't actually say that? Please don't tell me that. Oh my God."
Ivanka Makes Fun of Trump's Combover
Hey, she is just like us! Trumps' daughter Ivanka supposedly makes fun of his hair, too. Even better, she claims to know what's going on under that ridiculous combover. According to the book, Ivanka tells friends Trump has had scalp reduction surgery, and the top of his head is completely bare. All of his hair is "drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray." The secret ingredient for that color? Just for Men.
Trump Wanted a Lock on His Door, His Stuff Untouched
After moving to the White House, Trump is said to have retreated to his bedroom (he does not share a room with the First Lady) where he ordered two additional televisions and wanted a lock put on the inside of his door. The Secret Service balked at this, saying they needed access to him. Trump also demanded no one touch anything in his room, including the cleaning staff.
Trump Eats McDonalds for Fear of Poisoning
Much fun has been made of Trump's voluminous McDonalds order, but there's another reason than those delicious fries for his penchant for the fast-food giant. Just as he demanded no one touch his toothbrush for fear of it being poisoned, Wolff says he chooses McDonalds because they don't know he's coming and the food is generally already premade.
Trump Is Probably His Own Leak
While Trump became obsessed with finding out who was leaking all of his personal and private habits to the media, it may well be that it was Trump himself. He allegedly has a habit in the evening lamenting to his associates and friends about his day, his grievances, his enemies, really whatever came to mind. Those people were under no obligation or expectation that they should keep his words to themselves, and so likely many of them fed their scoops to the hungry media.
Trump May Be Only Semi-Literate
One of the biggest challenges staffers faced was wrangling the president and communicating directly with him. They reportedly say he processes information in a very scatter-brained way, shifting focus with the wind. He apparently doesn't read, and barely even skims.
Trump's Staff Are Afraid to Let Him Do Interviews
With Trump's tendency for repetition and lapses, not to mention off-the-cuff comments, his staff allegedly urged him to forgo a "60 Minutes" interview intended to open that show's fall season. Instead, they went with Sean Hannity, with insiders saying it was because he was willing to supply his questions beforehand. Hannity quickly denied this claim in a statement to Mediate: "I never provided questions ahead of time to Trump and never said I was going to quit my longtime, successful TV and radio career to work for Trump."