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BOOK REVIEW: Fire and Fury: “An idiot surrounded by clowns”

by Trevor Bailey

firefury20180104.jpgIf you are a news junkie watching the Trump White House with fascination akin to a rabbit transfixed by on-rushing headlights, you should read Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. The Mini-Me-like author has come up with a book that is by turns mind-boggling and hilarious. Every second page you will find yourself laughing at Trump and his courtiers. He is portrayed as a lunatic child, confirmed daily on our TV screens.

Wolff starts with one of Trump’s first acts as President, his visit to the CIA. The speech was total buffoonery. “I know a lot about West Point, I’m a person who strongly believes in academics… They say, Is Donald Trust an intellectual? Trust me, I’m like a smart person.” Trump rambled on to the incredulous CIA staff. “You know when I was young. Of course I feel young — I feel I was 30… 35… 39… Somebody said, Are you young? I said, I think I’m young.”

Why was he visiting the CIA? “The reason you are my first stop… as you know I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth… They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community and I just want you to know the reason you are the number one stop is exactly the opposite, exactly…”   Next time he called on the CIA, they would have to use a larger room. “It will be built by someone who knows how to build and we won’t have columns. We get rid of the columns. You understand that?” Trump told them he loved them and respected them. “We’re going to start winning again, and you are going to be leading the charge, so thank you very much.”  Wolff writes that the CIA staff was so appalled by the daft speech, you could have heard a pin drop.

The most damning quotes in the book come on Page 146 when an email said to be by Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs chief now in the West Wing, was widely circulated: “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up half-way through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner (son-in-law) is an entitled baby who knows nothing. (Steve) Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he is smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year other than his family. I hate the work… I am in a constant state of shock and horror.”

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Fire and Fury covers the early days of the administration. Wolff writes that Trump bumbled his way into deeper and deeper doo-doo. His firing of FBI director Comey was an act of vengeance, pure-Trump, the bureau was “too aggressively investigating him and his administration”. Twelve days after Comey was sacked, Deputy Attorney-General Rob Rosenstein, the ultimate by-the-book bureaucrat, signed up former FBI director Robert Mueller. Mueller was to oversee the investigation into Trump’s, his staff’s and his campaign’s ties to Russia. Bannon, smartest guy in the White House at the time according to Wolff, “shook his head in wonder about Trump”, and commented drily, “He doesn’t necessarily see what’s coming”.

Towards the end of the book, Wolff quotes Bannon on what lies ahead. “He thought there was a 33.3 per cent chance that the Mueller investigation would lead to the impeachment of the president, a 33.3 per cent chance that Trump would resign, perhaps in the wake of a threat by the cabinet to act on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment (by which the cabinet can remove the president in the event of his incapacitation), and a 33.3 per cent chance he would limp to the end of his term. In any event, there would not be a second term, or even an attempt at one.”

Will history see the Trump presidency as a mere hiccup in American politics or as a calamity? The lunatic child is also a megalomaniac. Other megalomaniacs in history when it all came tumbling down, vengefully sought to destroy. What will Trump do when the darkest days arrive?

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