Journalist and author Michael Wolff’s bombshell book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” came out on Friday after its publisher moved up the release date in light of the massive attention and controversy that have surrounded its claims about President Donald Trump.
Demand for the book was so high in fact that one popular Washington, DC bookstore sold out all of its copies just 20 minutes after it was released at midnight.
But Wolff’s explosive claims, including that everyone in the White House has questioned Trump’s fitness for office and that First Lady Melania Trump cried when it became clear Trump would win the presidency on election night, have come under scrutiny for their accuracy. Both Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have characterised the book as untrue, and Trump himself tweeted that it is “full of lies, misrepresentations, and sources that don’t exist.” Journalists have also called Wolff’s claims into question.
Here are seven of the most disputed claims in Wolff’s new book:
Trump not knowing who John Boehner is
In a notable passage in “Fire and Fury,” Wolff recounts a conversation between former Fox News executive Roger Ailes and Trump in which Ailes recommended that Trump pick former House Speaker John Boehner as his chief of staff. “Who’s that?” Trump reportedly responded.
But journalists were quick to point out holes in Wolff’s account – not only had Trump played golf with Boehner in 2013, but he also mentioned him four times during the campaign, and tweeted about him twice.
The Trump team’s surprise and dismay upon learning they had won the election
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has come out to deny Wolff’s account of the Trump team’s reaction to winning the presidency in November 2016, and specifically called into question Wolff’s claim that Trump and his wife Melania were horrified to have won the election.
“Melania Trump was the one who encouraged President Trump to run for office,” Spicer told CNN. “She was very supportive of this. The idea that she was crying is nonsense.”
“There is no question that the accuracy of this book is definitely in question,” Spicer continued. “And I know from some of the things that were written that don’t pertain to me definitely didn’t happen, with respect to the President, the First Lady.”
Tony Blair warning Jared Kushner that British agents might have spied on the Trump campaign
Wolff’s claim that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair personally warned Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner that the Trump campaign might have been spied on by British agents was quickly shot down by Blair himself on Thursday.
“This story is a complete fabrication, literally from beginning to end,” Blair said, according to The Guardian. “I’ve never had such conversation in the White House, outside of the White House, with Jared Kushner, with anybody else.”
Blair also threw cold water on another passage in Wolff’s book in which he claimed that Blair had been hoping to become Trump’s Middle East envoy.
“Of course I’ve met him and we discussed the Middle East peace process,” the former Prime Minister said. “I wasn’t angling for some job. I did the quartet role. I’m still very active on the Middle East peace process, but I’ve got absolutely no desire for an official position. I never sought one, it was never offered, don’t want one.”
Many of Wolff’s dialogues likely being recreations rather than factual accounts
NBC News reporter Katy Tur cast serious doubt on Wolff’s writing and reporting style in general. In a tweet sent on Wednesday, Tur outlined why the author’s open-ended presentation of facts leaves much to be desired.
“Wolff is likely to face some serious questions and criticism regarding his use of quotes,” Tur wrote. “It does appear from the reading that he is in the room for many of the conversations he ends up quoting in the book but from the Author’s Note it sounds like they are recreations. How can he be sure the characters said what they said?”
Tur is not the first person to criticise Wolff for the liberties he appears to have taken with his storytelling – a 2004 piece in the New Republic made similar claims, writing that the events Wolff often recounts in his narrative pieces are more products of his imagination than real, fact-checked reports.
Trump having to have the Constitution explained to him
One excerpt in “Fire and Fury” states that Republican policy analyst and Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg was tasked with explaining the US Constitution to then-candidate Trump in the early months of his campaign. Nunberg claimed it did not go well.
“I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head,” Nunberg is quoted as saying in the book.
Such a history calls into question the veracity of his statement in Wolff’s book.
Billionaire Tom Barrack Jr. calling Trump ‘stupid’
Real estate investor and Trump confidante Tom Barrack Jr. was quoted by Wolff as saying that the president is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.” But according to New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman, Barrack is denying the quote’s accuracy.
“Totally false,” Barrack toldHaberman over the phone.
A quote from a former White House adviser
Katie Walsh, who used to serve as a White House adviser, reportedly told Wolff that working with the president is “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
But now Walsh has come out disputing the accuracy of the quote, tellingAxios reporter Jonathan Swan she did not say anything of the sort.
Individuals within the White House corroborated Walsh’s denial, and many expressed doubt that Walsh would put her own livelihood in danger by going on the record with a quote critiquing Trump, according to Politico.
Wolff, however, claims he has recordings and notes of all of these conversations, according to The Washington Post.
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