Michael Wolff on Trump's Legal Response: "He’s Proving the Point of the Book"
The 'Fire and Fury' author said of Trump sending him a cease and desist demand: "Where do I send the box of chocolates? Not only is he helping me sell books, but he's proving the point of the book."
Michael Wolff is standing by his new White House tell-all about Donald Trump, including the book's explosive anecdotes about the president from his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. "I am certainly, absolutely in every way comfortable with everything reported in this book," he said on Friday's Today show.
Speaking out for the first time since excerpts of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House were made public earlier this week, the author told NBC News' Savannah Guthrie on Friday morning that "100 percent" of the people around Trump question his intelligence and fitness for office, including Bannon, who "evolved" and ultimately came to the conclusion that Trump is unfit to fulfill his duties as president.
Early excerpts of his book were released by New York magazine and GQ, and Wolff wrote a column about his year inside the White House for The Hollywood Reporter. (The author is a contributor for THR). The book was originally slated to publish on Jan. 9, but was moved up to Friday "due to unprecedented demand."
Echoing some of the most shocking claims made in his book, Wolff said on the Today show that Trump's senior officials say he's a "moron, an idiot. Actually, there's a competition to get to the bottom line here of who this man is. Let's remember, this man does not read, does not listen. So he's like a pinball just shooting off the sides."
The one thing they have in common, he said, is that they all compare him to a child: "He has a need for immediate gratification; it's all about him."
That applies, according to Wolff, to Trump's cease and desist demand.
Trump's personal lawyers sent Wolff and the book's publishing house an 11-page letter demanding that Wolff and Henry Holt & Co. refrain from further publication of the book and any excerpts or summaries of the contents. Trump also asked for an apology and a complete retraction.
"Where do I send the box of chocolates? Not only is he helping me sell books, but he’s proving the point of the book," said Wolff, calling Trump's attempt to stop the sale of the book "extraordinary." Adding, "This has not happened from other presidents, would not even happen from a CEO of a midsize company."
Saying he still has sources inside the White House, Wolff claimed that when Trump sent the letter, "I know everybody was going, 'We should not be doing this. This is not smart.' He just insists. He just has to be satisfied in the moment."
Quoting Bannon from his book, Wolff told Guthrie plainly of his findings about Trump: "He lost it."
After first releasing a statement about what was revealed about Bannon in the book — including the former White House advisor describing Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous meeting with Russians at Trump Tower as "treasonous" — Trump responded directly to Wolff on Twitter Thursday night.
Calling the book "phony," Trump said he authorized "zero access" to Wolff and turned down his interview requests "many times." Trump wrote, referencing Bannon as well, "I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!"
Admitting that he flattered his way into getting the unprecedented access, Wolff told Guthrie on Friday, "I certainly said whatever I needed to get the story." He says he has recordings and notes — though he wouldn't say if he planned to release any tapes — from his work on the book and in direct response to Trump, said: "I 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."
Adding, "I spoke to him after the inauguration. I've spent about three hours with the president over the course of the campaign and in the White House, so my window into Donald Trump is pretty significant."
As for his credibility being questioned, Wolff referenced his body of work and repeated that he stands by "absolutely everything" in the book: "My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on Earth at this point."