Michael Wolff’s new book paints the most detailed portrait yet of life inside the Trump White House.
Reported first by the Guardian, then in more detail by New York magazine and other outlets, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has illuminated what the book suggests is a toxic stew of personal feuding, disorganization and alarming behavior behind the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The president, excerpts suggest, has struggled to feel at home during his first year in power, expressing paranoia about his surroundings and pummeling residence staff with odd requests and rules.
Many of the most jarring accounts captured by Wolff are about relationships: close friends and advisers who have described Trump as unintelligent or childishly impetuous; high-profile departures from the administration in its first six months; internecine feuds revolving around Steve Bannon, the campaign chief executive who became senior White House strategist and fought running battles with the president’s children.
But simmering just below the soap opera appeal of such reports is an equally fascinating account of how the president lives.
According to Wolff, Trump began his tenure in the presidential residence by requesting a lock be placed on the door of his bedroom – during “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms” – in what is by any standard one of the most secure homes in the world.
This, Wolff writes, “precipitat[ed] a brief standoff with the secret service, who insisted they have access to the room”.
Trump also reportedly harangued domestic staff who would try to clear his floor of laundry, yelling: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” He would also strip his own bed, according to Wolff, when he decided his sheets needed a change.
Then Trump imposed a set of new rules, Wolff writes: “Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush.”
Trump is a self-described germophobe: by Wolff’s account he has also long been afraid of being poisoned. This, Wolff writes, is “one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s – nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made”.