“He’s not going to make it,” Steve Bannon says of his old boss Donald Trump.
The former campaign manager and then White House chief strategist, now back at Breitbart, gives the president he takes credit for electing (“I came up with a solution for his broke-dick campaign in about a day”) a one-in-three chance of ending up impeached, of resigning, or of limping through one term before walking away.
“He’s lost his stuff.”
That’s according to Michael Wolff’s new account of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, much of it sourced to Bannon and his camp, and most of it deeply hostile to Jarvanka, as they refer to first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Bannon, Wolff reports, has already assembled a “rump campaign operation” for 2020 and is telling people that Trump’s top 2016 backers—specifically Sheldon Adelson, Bob and Rebekah Mercer, Bernie Marcus and Peter Thiel—are now in Bannon’s corner as he travels the country meeting conservative leaders, to “kiss the ass and pay homage to all the gray-beards” as he sets the stage for “when I am president.”
The Guardian obtained a copy of Wolff’s book and published excerpts Wednesday morning, with Bannon predicting that special counsel Robert Mueller would “crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” Then, a few hours later, New York magazine rushed out its own authorized excerpt in which Bannon leads a Greek chorus of advisers, staffers, and confidants talking freely about how childish and unintelligent they find the commander in chief.
The Daily Beast obtained its own copy of the book later on Wednesday, at about the same time that Trump released a 265-word statement saying “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” that “now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look,” and concluding that he “is simply seeking to burn it all down.” Hours later, Trump attorney Charles Harder said in a statement that “legal action is imminent” for Bannon allegedly violating his non-disparagement agreement with Trump and making “in some cases outright defamatory” statements.
Harder, who’s also represented Melania Trump, had previously been financed in pursuing various lawsuits against Gawker, which ended up in the shuttering of that site and the sale of its sister sites, by Peter Thiel.
The Silicon Valley billionaire, Wolff reports, “absolutely was certain of Trump’s sincerity when he said they’d be friends for life—only never to basically hear from him again or have his calls returned” after he broke ranks with the tech elite to speak on Trump’s behalf at the 2016 Republican convention.
By May 2017, Thiel, “worried that Trump could bring Trumpism down,” planned to meet with deposed Fox News chief Roger Ailes to discuss the funding and launch of a new cable network, Wolff reports, only for Ailes to fall in his bathroom two days before their meeting and then die from his injuries days later. Previously, Ailes had reached out to Bannon, who was still in the West Wing and not ready to move on, asking: “O’Reilly and Hannity are in, what about you?”
Nine months earlier, and just weeks after Ailes—who by my count is the second most quoted figure in Fire and Fury, behind Bannon—had been ousted from Fox News over his sexual-harassment scandal, Wolff reports that “Trump asked his friend to take over the management of his calamitous campaign. Ailes, knowing Trump’s disinclination to take advice, or even listen to it, turned him down. That was the job Bannon [took] a week later.”
The offer to Ailes came two months before Trump’s own “locker-room talk” tape emerged,” though Wolff writes about the future president’s attempts to get other men talk that way, to help him bed their wives:
Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed. In pursuing a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought. Then he’d have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter. ‘Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better fuck than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles at three o’clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise…’ All the while, Trump would have his friend’s wife on the speakerphone, listening in.
Elsewhere, Wolff reports that Trump called then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates “such a c--t,” and that when Hope Hicks, who’d reportedly been involved with Corey Lewandowski, expressed concern about the press he was getting after being fired as campaign manager, Trump sent her running from the room when he replied: “You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have.”