Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House review tell-all burns all

Michael Wolff has written a book to shake America to its foundations, a brutal expos of an administration filled with fear and dysfunction

Amid the daily din of Donald Trumps White House comes Fire and Fury, Michael Wolffs tell-all, just in time for the first anniversary of the Trump inaugural. Like the burn book in the movie Mean Girls, Fire and Fury contains a toxic tale that singes all.

In Wolffs telling, Trump World is cacophonous and dysfunctional. Trump and those who work for him come across as all too happy to share, while loyalty is almost wholly absent from their landscape.

Trump purportedly mocks his own sons intellectual shortcomings and derides Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, as a suck-up. Melania Trump, the presidents third wife, cries in sorrow on election night over her husbands electoral college win. Steve Bannon, Trumps former senior adviser, pummels Jared and Ivanka, AKA Javanka, for their incredible lightness of being.

As to be expected, Bannon takes no prisoners and speaks with the loudest voice. He brands the now infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that was attended by a passel of Russians, Don Jr, Kushner and Paul Manafort, Trumps then campaign manager who is now under indictment, as treasonous, unpatriotic and bad shit.

Bannon also sees special counsel Robert Mueller tightening his noose around the Oval Office. Im pretty good at coming up with solutions, Wolff quotes Bannon as saying. I came up with a solution for his broken-dick campaign in a day, but I dont see this. I dont see a plan for getting through.

To his credit, Wolff catches the parallels between Bannon and Trump: If Trump is incapable of sounding like a president, Bannon had matched him; he was incapable of sounding like a presidential aide.

Trumps circle of friends, family and acquaintances are depicted as no less unsparing in their criticisms of the president. According to Wolff, Rupert Murdoch called Trump a fucking idiot after the two men ended a phone call. Given the pending Fox-Disney deal, Murdoch may be wishing Fire and Fury dropped a few months later.

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Fire and Fury: Key explosive quotes from the new Trump book – video

Sean Hannity, Trumps staunchest ally on television, is audibly disturbed by Trumps failure to offer condolences to the widow of Roger Ailes, Hannitys former boss at Fox News. Hannity is caught saying: What the fuck is wrong with him?

In a similar vein, Tom Barrack, a 30-year Trump buddy, allegedly observed: Hes not only crazy hes stupid.

For the record, Barrack who denied making that statement after the first excerpts of the book were published chaired Trumps inaugural, was according to Wolff considered for White House chief of staff, and brought Manafort into the campaign.

Even Javanka piles on. Upset by his father-in-laws indecision over Americas response to Syrias use of chemical weapons, Kushner complains that the president just doesnt get it. As for Ivanka, she is reported to have mocked her fathers hair.

Fire and Fury also captures the ethno-religious tensions that have apparently marred Trumps White House. Wolff quotes Henry Kissingers take on the feud between Kushner and Bannon as a war between the Jews and non-Jews. Here, Kissinger and Wolff likely overstate. But the backdrop of Pepe the Frog as a constant campaign meme, coupled with David Duke and white nationalist Richard Spencers man-crushes on Trump, leave the reader wondering.

Wolffs access to Trump and his inner circle is evident. At the outset, Wolff writes of how he sat down with Trump in his Beverly Hills home, while Kushner and Trump aides Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski milled about. Likewise, the quotes obviously bespeak knowledge and close proximity.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump represented a movement, and that fact deserved greater elucidation by Wolff. Said differently, among Fire and Furys shortcomings are its failure to adequately explain how Trump arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and its insufficient appreciation for the bond forged by Trump and his base. In that sense, the book lacks the connective tissue present in Devils Bargain, Joshua Greens take on the Trump campaign and the first few months of the presidency.

Clearly, Fire and Fury has set off a storm that has left its share of casualties. By Wednesday night, Bannon was on a political respirator and his role as keeper of the Trumpist flame was no more.

Steve Bannon listens as Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In addition to being pummeled by the president, Bannon has reportedly been abandoned by the Mercer Family, his benefactors. Adding insult to injury, Michael Grimm, an ex-congressman convicted of tax evasion, disavowed Bannons support for his comeback. Bannon had gone from the leading voice of populism militant to a caricature. As for Trump, he has reminded the Faithful there shall be no others before Him.

The first amendment may also be tested. In addition to sending a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon for allegedly violating a non-disclosure agreement, Trumps lawyers threw a legal brushback pitch at Wolff and Henry Holt, the books publisher. Without citing any particular false content, Team Trump threatened legal action in an attempt to halt publication.

Significantly, Trumps lawyers did not cite national security as grounds for killing the book in its cradle. Rather, this fight is about honor and intimidation. Henry Holt responded by bringing publication forward to Friday. The book, the publisher claimed, is an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse.

Synchronously, Steven Spielbergs movie, The Post, which portrays the Nixon administrations unsuccessful attempt to block the Washington Post and the New York Times publication of the Pentagon Papers, is now in theaters. Ultimately, that episode became viewed as a prelude to Watergate and Richard Nixons downfall.

Make no mistake, Wolffs latest is a must-read. It pulls away whatever curtain still cloaks the Trump White House, leaving those who know Trump best to do the talking.

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