“Journalist” Michael Wolff’s new book on Donald Trump has hit the racks with a resounding thud. Reports of who said what have exploded across the internet — and Wolff claims to have hours and hours of tape to prove what he says in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which arrives in bookstores on Jan. 9.
In a firestorm after excerpts of the book were released, The Washington Post reported that Wolff has been accused in the past of “pushing the facts as far as they’ll go, and sometimes further than they can tolerate.” And, as usual, most of the quotes come from unnamed sources — some second- or even third-hand.
Here are a few of the top quotes and supposed facts that have been making the rounds — along with people saying they never happened and that they never said the things Wolff claims they said.
1. “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid,” billionaire and Trump confidant, Thomas Barrack Jr., told a friend, according to Wolff.
The idea, of course, plays into the conventional wisdom among elite liberals and the mainstream media that Trump is a buffoon. The only problem is, Barrack says he never said it, telling New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman the quote is “totally false.”
“Barrack said he spoke to Wolffe once, says he never said the quote attributed to him to Wolffe or anyone. ‘Totally false,’ Barrack said by phone just now,” she wrote on Twitter. “Tom Barrack adds, ‘It’s clear to anyone who knows me that those aren’t my words and inconsistent with anything I’ve ever said.’ He says Wolffe never ran that quote by him to ask if it was accurate.”
2. First lady Melania Trump was reportedly despondent over her husband’s victory on November 8, 2016. “Melania was in tears—and not of joy,” Wolff wrote. After the expected loss — predicted by every pollster — “Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching,” Wolff said.
But the first lady through her press office says that never happened.
“The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section,” said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director. “Mrs. Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for president and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.”
3. “Who’s that?” That’s what Trump supposedly said when former Fox News Roger Ailes told him he should pick former House Speaker John Boehner as his White House chief of staff.
But Trump had tweeted often about Boehner, and as a political watcher was no doubt aware of the identity of the third most powerful person in government.
Plus, he played golf with the guy. So, please, Trump knew who Boehner was.
4. “Working with the president … was like trying to figure out what a child wants.” That’s what Katie Walsh, 32, a former deputy chief of staff, reportedly said about trying to discern Trump’s desires.
This, again, plays into the MSM notion that Trump is an immature narcissist. Like the others, though, Walsh says she never said that, according to a reporter with Axios, a political website.
5. Wolff reports that six weeks into office, Trump still had not determined what the new administration’s top priorities would be, and said that operations in the West Wing were chaotic.
But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that “We know the book has a lot of things, so far that we’ve seen, that are completely untrue,” adding that Wolff’s characterizations of White House operations were “the opposite of what I saw.”
Shortly after the excerpts hit the web, Paul Farhi of the Post wrote a piece titled “Michael Wolff tells a juicy tale in his new Trump book. But should we believe it?” In it, the reporter writes, Wolff “has been accused of not just re-creating scenes in his books and columns, but of creating them wholesale.”
In the coming days, more people could emerge to dispute the accounts of what they said according to Wolff. Still, we do have to note that this one incredible claim is probably true, given Trump’s penchant for fast food, Fox News and late-night (plus early morning) rants on Twitter:
“If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.”
And all the stuff on Bannon? We’re guessing that’s what on Wolff’s “hours and hours” of tape.