Author Michael Wolff said Friday morning that he stands behind “absolutely everything” in his provocative new book about President Donald Trump’s first year in office, which the White House has panned as “trash” and riddled with falsehoods.
“One of the things we have to count on is that Donald Trump will attack. He will send lawyer's letters. This is a 35-year history of how he approaches everything,” Wolff told NBC’s “Today” show, speaking specifically about a cease and desist letter sent by the president’s lawyers to the book’s publishers and himself. “My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on Earth at this point.”
Contained in Wolff’s book is seemingly page after page of embarrassing descriptions of the West Wing as disorganized and back-biting, and of the president as ignorant, inept and, perhaps worst of all, possessing declining mental faculties. Some, like former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, have claimed they did not make the statements attributed to them in the book, while others, like former chief strategist Steve Bannon, have not disputed their remarks.
Wolff’s book had been scheduled for release later this month but was instead released Friday, a decision that the publisher said was made based on “unprecedented demand.” Wolff himself said demands from the president’s lawyers that the book not be published had fueled interest in the book, asking "Today" host Savannah Guthrie, “where do I send the box of chocolates?”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s press briefing that the book was “complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip,” noting that Wolff had misreported the age of White House communications director Hope Hicks and suggesting that such a simple mistake was indicative of sloppy work. Trump himself, in a post to Twitter Thursday night, said he never spoke to Wolff for the book, which the president said was “full of lies,” and did not authorize White House access for the author.
Wolff disputed that point in particular Friday morning, asking Guthrie “what was I doing there if he didn't want me to be there?” Wolff said he had spoken to the president for a total of roughly three hours between the campaign and his time reporting inside the White House. “Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don't know,” Wolff said. “But it certainly was not off the record.”
The author said he had notes and recordings from his interviews and that he works “like every journalist works.” In response to questions about his credibility that have come from the White House and from other journalists, Wolff said “I've written millions upon millions of words. I don't think there has ever been one correction.”
The book paints a picture of Trump as deteriorating in his mental state, repeating himself on an ever-shortening cycle and struggling to remember old friends. Wolff said “100 percent” of the people around the president that he spoke to for the book questioned Trump’s intelligence and mental fitness for office.
“The one description that everyone gave, everyone has in common, they all say he is like a child. And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It's all about him,” Wolff said. “They say he's a moron, an idiot. Actually, there's a competition to sort of 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.”