US government officials rush to defend their boss, US President Donald Trump, in the backdrop of new allegations against him in an explosive book.
The book, whose excerpts started being released before it was published on Friday, offers an embarrassing account of Trump’s first year in office and includes quotes from former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon calling Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Trump administration officials, including two from the cabinet, appeared on various TV shows Sunday to play defense in the wake of the release of the book titled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by journalist Michael Wolff.
White House policy advisor Stephen Miller probably got most of the attention as he was abruptly cut off during an interview on CNN over the matter.
Miller decried the book, calling it a “grotesque work of fiction” and a “pile of trash” written by a “garbage author.”
He then started arguing about the TV outlet’s coverage of the controversial book and was ultimately cut off by host Jake Tapper, who called the advisor “obsequious.”
“I get it. There’s one viewer that you care about right now and you’re being obsequious and you’re being a factotum in order to please him, OK,” Tapper said, referring to the president.
Trump himself came out in defense of Miller by a tweet later in the day.
“Jake Tapper of Fake News
CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration,” he wrote on Twitter about an hour after the interview aired. “Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!”
Trump does not read and acts like a child, according to the book, whose author said in an interview that “100 percent of the people around” the president question “his intelligence and fitness for office.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was also pressured over the claims, which she disputed, alleging that people “respect” the former reality TV star and real estate mogul.
“These people love their country and respect our president. I have never seen or heard the type of toxic language that they’re talking about,” Haley said on ABC. “Now, I’m not there seven days a week, but I’m there once a week, and I’m there for a day with White House meetings and everything, no one questions the stability of the president.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo (pictured below) also appeared on Fox News to assert that Trump actually reads, at least when it comes to briefings provided by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
“This president reads material that we provide to him. He listens closely to his daily briefing,” said Trump’s spymaster. “This president is an avid consumer of the work product that our team at the CIA produces and we do our best to convey that to him every day.”
For his part, the president has called the author “a loser” and described Bannon “dumped like a dog.”
“He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad,” he said last week.
Trump’s former campaign manager also slammed Wolff, calling him a liar.
“I don’t think anybody who looks at what’s in this book can take it honestly,” Lewandowski said on Fox News. “This is a book of fiction. Not only is it not accurate, there are so many misrepresentations in this book that it shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
Some believe that the Trump administration’s hasty response to the book, and that following efforts to prevent its publication, has just raised more questions.
“However accurate some of the reporting is, it [the book] builds on a year’s worth of experience with Donald Trump and a year’s worth of reporting by a broad array of news organizations that make you think, yes, maybe there is something here,” said former advisor to President Barrack Obama, David Axelrod, calling the White House’s strategy “disastrous.”
The Trump team has instead drawn even more attention to the book by its response.
“The worst thing that you can do is flatter the book with attention and, even worse than that, threaten to sue the author,” said Mark McKinnon, a former advisor to President George W. Bush. “I guarantee, if you want to raise sales for a book, threaten to sue the author.”
While the physical copies of the book have been sold out in many places, it currently sits on the No. 1 slot in Amazon’s best seller list.