An explosive new book about the dysfunction in President Donald Trump’s White House also details the dysfunction in his marriage with First Lady Melania Trump.
In Fire & Fury, which released four days early on Friday due to high demand, author Michael Wolff describes how the couple would sometimes go days at a time without contact during Trump’s presidential campaign — even when they lived together in Trump Tower.
“He and Melania spent relatively little time together. … Often she did not know where he was, or take much notice of that fact,” Wolff writes, noting that Mrs. Trump also didn’t know about or show much interest in her husband’s business.
Their marriage was “perplexing” to almost everyone who worked closely with Trump during the campaign, says Wolff. But to Trump, this arrangement spelled success. The real estate mogul — who already had two unsuccessful marriages under his belt, to first wife Ivana and second wife Marla Maples — reportedly told friends he had finally perfected the art of marriage: “Do your own thing.”
“Still,” Wolff writes, “the notion that this was a marriage in name only was far from true.”
RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Writer Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack
According to the author, Trump often spoke of his wife when she wasn’t there, referring to her proudly and without irony as his “trophy wife.” “He admired her looks — often, awkwardly for her, in the presence of others.”
This could partly inform why, when the New York Post published nude photos from a shoot Mrs. Trump had done early in her modeling career, “everybody other than Melania” assumed Trump himself was responsible for the leak, Wolff says.
Wolff’s reporting sheds new light on a relationship that has fascinated and mystified the public.
With little to go on, many Americans have sought insight from the first lady’s public reactions to her husband, including one viral moment where she appeared to swat away her husband’s hand as he reached for it during a May trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, and another where her smile morphed into a scowl after the president spoke unknown words to her on his inauguration day.
Yet, according to Fire & Fury, Trump has also seemed invested in keeping the third Mrs. Trump content. He has sought her approval, including in 2014 when he first started seriously considering running for president.
And “while he may not have quite shared his life with her, he gladly shared the spoils of it,” often repeating the platitude: “A happy wife is a happy life.”
The president responded to Fire & Fury on Twitter Thursday night, denying that he had granted White House access to Wolff and calling the book “phony” and “full of lies, misrepresentation, and sources that don’t exist.” (Wolff, meanwhile, says he was granted access and interviewed the president.)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has also dismissed questions raised in the book about Trump’s mental fitness, calling such comments “disgraceful” and “laughable.”