As it happenedended1515188247

Fire and Fury summary: All the most explosive moments in new book from inside Trump's White House

Read all the highlights here

Andrew Griffin
Friday 05 January 2018 11:00
comments
The most explosive claims from a new book about Trump's white house

Michael Wolff's explosive book from inside the workings of the Trump White House has finally become public, sending shockwaves around the world.

The book – which has already been criticised by both Trump himself as well as critics – contains a range of huge claims about the president and those who surround him.

Extracts from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House had already made headlines around the world. But people are finally getting their hands on their own copies of the book, rather than excerpted details from the expose.

That's because the book's publication schedule was pushed forward by publisher Little, Brown because of "unprecedented demand". The book is now available in bookshops, as well as on Amazon, where it appears to have already sold out.

Here's our full summary – assembled live during the read through – of the experience of reading the explosive book.

Please allow a moment for the live blog to load

1515146994

Everyone ready? Here goes! 

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:09
1515147269

The book starts with an author's note. That might normally be the kind of thing you skip over, but it offers some insight into the bizarre process through which this book was born.

It was originally intended as an account of Trump's first 100 days, says Wolff. But then so much kept happening into the second hundred and more that further work was required, so the book got longer.

 The events described come from eighteen months of conversations with Trump and those around him, some of whom talked dozens of times. The work started long before Trump even imagined himself in the White House, says Wolff, with a conversation at the candidate's house in Beverly Hills – all conducted while he ate a pint of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

In all, the book takes in more than 200 interviews. But more than that, Wolff claims to have taken up a "semipermanent seat on a couch in the West Wing", becoming a fly-on-the-wall among the chaos of the White House. That chaos meant there was nobody with enough power to tell him to go away, he claims – and so he stayed. The book is what ensued (or so he claims).

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:14
1515147876

Into the prologue – and it's not Trump we're hearing about, but his two friends and more or less close advisers Steve Bannon and Roger Ailes. They met for dinner – a dinner to which Bannon was late, and reportedly said he doesn't drink, just like Trump – a couple of weeks before the new president was inaugurated, writes Wolff, and both were in a strange state of shock about the fact they'd won. Already, it's the strange details that stand out more than the politics: Bannon was wearing two shirts, military fatigues and turned up late; and the now disgraced but then Fox News-leading Roger Ailes held forth with strange views of why Trump had won.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:24
1515148115

It's clear that everyone around Trump was more or less convinced that even he didn't know why he would won, or what he would be doing as president. Ailes was forced to ask Bannon whether Trump "gets it". Bannon said that he did – but Wolff describes a pause before doing so that perhaps lasted a little too long.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:28
1515148248

We're coming to our first – of many, no doubt – looks at what happened with the Russians. Roger Ailes asks Steve Bannon what Trump "has gotten himself into" with the country. Bannon says that he had gone to Russia with the hope of meeting Putin. Putin wasn't interested, though, Wolff reports Bannon as saying – so he has been forced to keep trying to become friends.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:30
1515148465

Into election day. And we start with a reminder that nobody actually thought Trump would win: his close adviser Kellyanne Conway, for instance, is reported to have spent all day ringing around the many TV producers she'd befriended selling herself and casting off blame for the inevitable defeat she was about to suffer. She blamed the Republican party, first, then moved on.

Secondly, she had attempted to show how she had done a surprisingly good job – by managing to at least bring someone seen as the worst candidate in history within a chance of winning.

The agreement wasn't just that Trump wouldn't win but that he shouldn't win, writes Wolff. It was helpful that enough people didn't think it would happen to actually have to deal with the fallout if it did.

Even Trump wasn't clear about the fact that he actually wanted to be president, according to the book. He was already looking forward to his plans for a Trump TV network and other ventures. And he was getting ready to claim that the election had been stolen from him, and that's why he would lose.

Trump believed that everyone around him was an idiot and that his own campaign was "crappy". He also thought that the Clinton campaign had all the "best" people, Wolff claims.

He was so unsure of his own campaign that he even refused to donate money to it, Wolff reports. He billed himself as a billionaire throughout the campaign, but the best he could do was lend $10 million on the promise that he'd get it back when they raised more money, and the finance chairman Steve Mnuchin had to collect the loan to ensure Trump didn't forget.

Indeed, the only person who believed Trump would win was Steve Bannon. But since people thought he was "crazy Steve", that did the opposite of reassuring them, says Wolff.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:34
1515149121

Wolff moves on to discussing Trump's marriage to Melania, something that was "perplexing to almost everybody around him". They could go for days without talking, even if they were both in Trump tower. She might not even know which house he was in, and didn't seem to care. And she wasn't very interested in his business, either.

But he still talked about her a lot, and it's not wrong to call their relationship a marriage in name only, claims Wolff. He would discuss and admire her looks, even when other people were there, and he bragged sincerely about the fact that she was a "trophy wife". And he wanted her approval, including for his bid for president.

She gave it, even though she was one of the few people who thought he might actually win. That was a terrifying thought for her she didn't want to lose her "carefully sheltered life", which kept her not only from the glare of the press but from the rest of the extended Trump family, and allowed her to focus on raising her son Barron.

The Billy Bush tape – in which Trump boasted about "grabbing [women] by the pussy" – was an embarrassment for Melania Trump, too. The silver lining was that at least her husband wouldn't become president, jokes Wolff, and idea that even Trump himself encouraged to her when she was upset about his run.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:45
1515149554

The picture the book paints of Trump Tower on election night is a fairly desperate and depressing one – but only when it became clear that Trump was going to win. The whole campaign was set up so that it would win by losing: they would avoid the potentially dangerous glare of the press that would come with a victory, and all of the big people in the movement had already set up their new jobs for afterwards. Trump, for instance, would be able to become the figurehead of a movement that would see him as the martyr of the crooked Clinton campaign.

When it became clear he was going to win, however, everything changed. Donald Jr looked "as if he had seen a ghost"; Melania "was in tears – and not of joy"; and Trump went from "befuddled" to "disbelieving" to "quite horrified", all in the space of an hour. And then he underwent the most dramatic change of all: into a "a man who believed that he deserved to be and was wholly capable of being the president of the United States".

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 10:52
1515150203

Wolff moves on to Trump's character before he started thinking about running for president. And character is the right word: Wolff says that he speaks about himself in the third person, and was living life as a role in the same way Hulk Hogan does.

The book moves on to discuss rumours – apparently supported by people who knew him – that Trump had sex with his friends' wives. But is that true? All that and more is addressed in this excellent piece by Adam Lusher, which looks at just how much of this book we can trust in.

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 11:03
1515150492

(Just jumping out of the book here to say that if you want to heckle me, hurry me along, ask any questions or whatever else, then the best place to do it is probably on Twitter – where I'm @_andrew_griffin.)

Andrew Griffin5 January 2018 11:08

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments