Three TVs, a phone and a cheeseburger: tell-all book reveals Donald’s bedtime

Three TVs, a phone and a cheeseburger: tell-all book reveals Donald’s bedtime

Among the revelations in Michael Wolffs Fire and Fury is a fascinating glimpse of home life in Trumps White House, from separate bedrooms to rambling rants

Michael Wolffs 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 presidents children.

But simmering just below the soap opera appeal of such reports is an equally fascinating account of how the president lives.

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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, its 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 Wolffs account he has also long been afraid of being poisoned. This, Wolff writes, is one reason why he liked to eat at McDonalds nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.

Wolff also writes that Trump requested two television sets be added to his bedroom, which already had one in place. Most days, Wolff writes, Trump preferred to be in bed by 6.30pm, watching his three televisions, eating a cheeseburger and making telephone calls to friends and confidants.

Melania
Melania and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. According to the book, this is the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

By Wolffs telling, the first lady, Melania Trump, would probably be elsewhere in her own bedroom, somewhere else in the building or back at Trump Tower in New York, where she remained for the first months of her husbands presidency.

Such separation from the president would chime with Wolffs descriptions of Melanias horror and tears on election night, when it became clear her husband might actually win. That account was, however, rejected by the first ladys communications director, Stephanie Grisham, who predicted Wolffs book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section.

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The most famous man in the world

According to Fire and Fury, nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trumps own behavior. The big deal of being president, Wolff writes, was just not apparent to him.

Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House, would be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But to Trump, that wasnt that different from life in Trump Tower where he liked the decor better.

Wolff describes a distracted figure, adrift in unfamiliar surrounds. In an excerpt published by the British magazine GQ, Wolff writes: Much of the presidents daily conversation was a repetitive rundown of what various anchors and hosts had said about him.

In the Hollywood Reporter, he wrote: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes hed repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories now it was within 10 minutes he just couldnt stop saying something.

Whats more, by the end of his first summer the president had lost the reassuring presence of Keith Schiller, his long-term bodyguard, for what Wolff calls reasons darkly whispered about in the West Wing.

Among the most significant claims in the book, Wolff asserts that Trump never wanted to live in the White House. His primary objective, Wolff contends, was not to win the 2016 election. Instead, he planned to leverage the loss and build his media brand.

At the start of the race, Trump reportedly told his aide Sam Nunberg: I can be the most famous man in the world. Toward the eve of the election there were rumors that a defeated Trump would set his sights on establishing a Trump television network, rather than a life watching three televisions in a lonely White House bedroom.

Wolff, once a Guardian columnist, has said he conducted conversations and interviews over 18 months with the president and most members of his senior staff. He was able to take up something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing, he said, an idea encouraged by the president himself.

Since the new White House was often uncertain about what the president meant or did not mean in any given utterance, his non-disapproval became a kind of passport for me to hang around, Wolff wrote in the Hollywood Reporter.

The White House has countered that Wolff barely spoke to the president. Trump has vehemently denied many of the claims so far revealed. A lawyer for the president has demanded Wolff and his publisher cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/04/donald-trump-white-house-domestic-life-cheeseburger

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