An explosive new book that claims Donald Trump never wanted to win the election has left the White House in “total meltdown”, according to insiders.
Details from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House have rocked US politics, including the astonishing claim that Trump was horrified when he won the presidency, and that his victory left Melania ‘in tears’.
Sources told US station MSNBC that Trump was “beyond furious” about what had been written in the book, set to be published in full on 9 January, and that White House aides were scrambling to discover what dirt on them might be unveiled.
The President released an extraordinary statement attacking his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was one of more than 200 sources spoken to by the book’s author Michael Wolff.
Trump said that Mr Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my Presidency” and added: “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
Meanwhile, the president’s lawyer Charles Harder threatened legal action against Mr Bannon over “disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements”.
Mr Harder sent a letter to Mr Bannon saying the former aide violated confidentiality agreements by speaking with Mr Wolff.
The letter demanded Mr Bannon “cease and desist” any further disclosure of confidential information.
What are some of the bombshell claims made in the book?
Mr Wolff paints Trump as a leader who does not understand the weight of the presidency and spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the phone to old friends.
In the book, Mr Bannon is quoted as describing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Junior, Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Mr Bannon also speaks critically of President Trump’s daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka, calling her “dumb as a brick”.
He is quoted as saying: ”A little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding actually how the world works and what politics is and what it means – nothing.”
Mr Wolff also writes that Trump believed his presidential nomination would boost his brand and deliver “untold opportunities” – but that he never expected to win.
It also claims Mr Trump Junior told a friend that his father looked as if he had seen a ghost when it became clear he might win the presidency.
The younger Trump described Melania Trump as “in tears – and not of joy.”
The book also alleges that former Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Trump that UK intelligence agencies may have spied on him.
It details an account of a meeting between Mr Blair and senior Trump aide Jared Kushner at the White House last February where Mr Blair shared a “juicy rumour” that the British had Trump campaign staff under surveillance during the election, “monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself”.
The former PM reportedly gave the impression that Barack Obama’s administration had hinted that such activities would be helpful.
The book reportedly suggested that Mr Blair was angling for a role as Middle East adviser to the President at the time.
However, a spokeswoman for Mr Blair described the allegations as “categorically absurd”.
In addition to Trump’s statement about Mr Bannon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the release left the President “furious” and “disgusted”.
She complained that the book contained “outrageous” and “completely false claims against the President, his administration and his family”.
The First Lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, disputed claims Mrs Trump was upset about her husband winning.
Ms Grisham said the First Lady supported her husband’s decision to run, encouraged him to do so and was happy when he won.
She said in a statement: ”The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section.”
The biggest revelations about Donald Trump’s White House from explosive new book
Here’s some of the biggest revelations to have emerged from Wolff’s book.
Trump was ‘horrified’ when he won.
Wolff says that Trump never actually wanted to win. Instead, he intended to lose by a narrow margin that would then allow him to join forces with the late Fox News boss Roger Ailes to create a successful brand of Trump TV.
Wolff claims: ‘There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.’
Melania Trump was in tears at Trump’s victory.
Similar disbelief was seen from First Lady Melania Trump.
‘Melania was in tears — and not of joy’, Wolff says.
He also alleges that Trump had personally assured her of his loss, so she could return to ‘inconspicuous lunching’.
A spokesperson for Melania Trump has since described the claims as ‘fiction’
He’s afraid of being poisoned by his toothbrush.
Trump’s Germophobia has long been documented, although certainly not to this extent.
Wolff says: ‘He imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.)’
Rupert Murdoch isn’t a big fan of him
Fox magnate Rupert Murdoch reportedly clashed with Trump over his plans for H1-B Visas, which allow specialist workers to enter the United States.
‘Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders’, Wolff says.
‘But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”
“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.
He shouted at cleaners who picked his shirt off the floor
After moving into the White House, Trump reportedly had a stand off with the Secret Service, who objected to his plans for a bedroom door lock as they require access at all times.
He also ‘reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.”’