January 3, 2018

Perhaps President Trump knew what was coming.

What was even for Trump an arguably unprecedentedly prolific and disparate Twitter storm on Tuesday is now followed by the occasionally head-turning, detailed excerpts Wednesday of a new book on his presidency, "Fire and Fury," by longtime established journalist Michael Wolff, whose work has appeared in many top-notch magazines and other publications.

Was Tuesday's Twitter storm his almost predictable modus operandi to somehow distract attention from bad news he suspected was coming? For sure, the Wednesday news wasn't good and sure to infuriate him.

"New Trump book: Bannon’s ‘treasonous’ claim, Ivanka's presidential ambitions and Melania’s first-lady concerns" was The Washington Post headline, which was a smidgen of the tsunami of coverage the book was receiving on various media platforms.

New York Magazine published an excerpt from the book that was blanketing Twitter most of the morning.

"Steve Bannon calls Trump Tower Russian meeting ‘treasonous’ in new book" declared NBC News' website.

"He sounds like he's from MSNBC," said CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin in discussing just the comments attributed to Bannon, who now runs the right-leaning Breitbart News operation and even suggests to Wolff that somehow a meeting at the Trump offices could constitute treason (very farfetched).

BookWolff, who has written frequently over the years about the press and has both an independent, acerbic streak and access to many conservative heavyweights, especially in the Rupert Murdoch empire, may be among the first to strike gold in the cottage industry that will be writing books about the Trump presidency.

Some disclosures won't seem earth-shattering and, indeed, don't seem especially new, such as Trump assuming he'd lost to Hillary Clinton, Melania being anxious about being First Lady and some top campaign aides being stunned by the "Access Hollywood" disclosures.

Others will continue to inspire headlines and cable "breaking news" flashes, especially given the level of detail he brings. Notably, there is this section via Bannon, as noted by The Washington Post and others in the early coverage of the first excerpts being published:

"'The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,' said an astonished and derisive [Stephen K.] Bannon, not long after the meeting was revealed. 'The three senior guys in the campaign,' an incredulous Bannon went on, 'thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the twenty-fifth floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s–t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.'"

(As The Post itself notes, there's no evidence that Trump himself met with Russians at the tower)

The other disclosures include detailed claims of Trump's ignorance on political issues and personalities, including not knowing the identity of former House Speaker John Boehner. Then there are claims of Ivanka Trump's own presidential ambitions (and her own criticism of her father's hair).

If there's a central theme, it, too, is not especially revelatory. But the specifics assembled by Wolff seem, at first glance, to give it potential weight.

"From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months — from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing — set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s 'The Producers,' where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle — that they would lose the election — wound up exposing them for who they really were."

No surprise, Trump did not go into rhetorical purgatory amid the new book disclosures. For one, he declared that Bannon had "lost his mind" with his claims about Donald Jr.

"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," he said in a statement. "Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.”

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New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S.…
James Warren

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