The author of a shocking new book detailing the dysfunction within President Donald Trump’s White House appeared on Today Friday to defend his reporting, stating that close aides universally criticize the president and express fears about his mental fitness.
“They say he’s a moron, an idiot,” Michael Wolff told Savannah Guthrie while speaking about his new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which was just released early due to high demand. “He’s like a pinball just shooting off the sides.”
Wolff also spoke in greater detail about concerns the president’s advisors have about his memory. In a preview piece the author published in The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, Wolff wrote that “at Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.”
On Friday, Wolff said White House officials say the president repeats himself with alarming frequency.
“They’ve all tracked this,” Wolff told Guthrie. “In the beginning it was like every 25 or 30 minutes you would get the same three stories repeated. Now it’s the same three stories in every 10 minutes.”
When Guthrie pressed Wolff to say what that suggests, Wolff replied: “I will quote Steve Bannon: He’s lost it.”
The White House dismissed concerns about Trump’s cognitive functioning on Thursday, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling any comments “disgraceful” and “laughable” during a press briefing.
“If he was unfit, he probably wouldn’t be sitting there,” Sanders said. “This is an incredibly strong and good leader.”
However, Wolff said on Today Friday that in private, “100 percent of the people around him” express concerns about the president’s ability to lead.
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Meanwhile, the president attacked Wolff and Bannon on Twitter Thursday night, calling the book “phony” and “full of lies,” and nicknaming former chief strategist Steve Bannon “sloppy Steve.”
Wolff told Guthrie such tweets and the cease and desist letter Trump’s lawyers delivered to him and his publisher are simply evidence of the child-like tendencies everyone in the president’s orbit describes. (Bannon also received a cease and desist letter, for comments that included calling Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer “treasonous.”)
“The one description that everyone gave, that they all have in common, is that he is like a child. He has a need for immediate gratification,” he said.
“It’s all about him,” Wolff added. “He just has to be satisfied in the moment.”
The author also said Friday that he “absolutely spoke to the president. Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record.”