The new “bombshell” book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” has come under fire for what a growing number of sources have said are false claims. Adding his name to the list is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who slammed a claim made about him by Wolff as “categorically absurd.”
“In February Blair visited Kushner in the White House. On this trip the new freelance diplomat, perhaps seeking to prove his usefulness to this new White House, mentioned a juicy rumour: the possibility that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself,” Wolff wrote, an excerpt published by The Times of London.
Soon after the excerpt was published, a representative of Blair responded with an unequivocal denial, dismissing Wolff’s claim as “categorically absurd” and “simply untrue.”
As Business Insider highlights, Blair is not the first high-profile figure to call into question the accuracy of Wolff’s reporting:
Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor, also dismissed the claim that she lobbied Trump to be his ambassador to the UK as “laughably preposterous.”
Other journalists have also urged caution. Some cited Wolff’s track record — questions were raised about his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch — and others compared his claims with their own knowledge of the Trump White House.
Wolff’s book was scheduled to be released next week but is reportedly getting rushed to the stores amid the firestorm its excerpts have created. The biggest fallout from the book so far surround quotes by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, whom Wolff quotes as condemning Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian source as “treasonous” and predicting that Robert Mueller, special counsel who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 president election, will get to Trump via “money laundering” charges. Trump swiped back with a blistering disavowal of Bannon and legal threats to Bannon, Wolff and the book’s publisher, Henry Holt and Co. Inc.
Trump’s accusations of “libel” and “actual malice (reckless disregard of the truth)” center on what his legal team describes as the inclusion of “false/baseless statements” about the president falsely attributed to sources or else left unsourced. The publication of these false claims and fake quotes, says Trump’s legal team, amount to “defamation by libel.” Trump is also accusing Wolff of “tortious interference with contractual relations, and inducement of breach of contract,” presumably including Bannon’s.
Wolff says he stands by “absolutely everything in the book” and claims to have records backing up his reporting. On Friday, Trump slammed both Wolff and “Sloppy Steve” again, saying he gave Wolff “zero” access to him and suggesting that both men are going to find themselves on the wrong end of a legal battle: