An explosive tell-all book which chronicles the first year of the Donald Trump presidency claims that, well, Trump did not enjoy his presidential inauguration. The book, entitled Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and written by journalist Michael Wolff, says that Trump was disappointed about the lack of A-list celebrities in attendance, and that he was in a sour mood throughout many of the related events because of a perceived lack of popularity.
"He had hoped for a big blow out," Wolff wrote in the book, which was published on Friday. “But Trump, imploring friends to use their influence to nail some of the A-level stars who were snubbing the event, started to get angry and hurt that stars were determined to embarrass him."
The book was reportedly based on 200 interviews with people around Trump, which were conducted over a period of 18 months. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denounced the book as "filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House." On the same day, Trump's lawyers released a cease and desist order to Wolff and his publisher. The order insisted that they halt publication of Fire and Fury, arguing that the book could be libelous. Instead, the book's release was moved up from Tuesday, Jan. 9 to Friday, Jan. 5.
Fire and Fury paints a picture of a president vexed by his lack of admiration, and who was supposedly unprepared for an election win. According to Wolff, on the morning of the inauguration, Trump and his wife, Melania, were "visibly fighting." Reportedly, she "seemed on the verge of tears and would return to New York the next day; almost every word he addressed to her was sharp and peremptory."
Wolff also claimed that KellyAnne Conway, one of Trump's counselors, had taken up Melania's cause because she believed that the future first lady could be vitally important to the administration. "But," Wollf wrote, "In general, the Trumps’ relationship was one of the things that nobody asked too many questions about — another mysterious variable in the presidential mood."
In addition to potentially negative interactions with his wife, Trump reportedly was dissatisfied with turnout at a concert the night before, which Wolff characterizes as "part of an always awkward effort to import pop culture to Washington." When the campaign failed to attract a well-known headliner, Trump himself reportedly agreed to be the main act, "angrily insisting to aides that he could outdraw any star." This, according to Wolff, was the beginning of an inauguration marked by Trump's acute frustration.
"Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed," Wolff wrote. "This had become the public Trump - truculent Trump."
According to Wolff, Trump's bad mood turned into an appropriate match for his inaugural address:
The administration purposely began on a tone of menace — a Bannon-driven message to the other side that the country was about to undergo profound change. Trump’s wounded feelings — his sense of being shunned and unloved on the very day he became president — helped send that message.
However, despite the rocky first day, Fire and Fury says that Trump woke up the next morning feeling optimistic. In fact, this feeling could have led to Trump's false claims that many more people attended the ceremony than actually did. Further, according to Wolff, none of Trump's aides attempted to correct him when he asked if "more than a million people at least" attended his swearing-in:
Hence, within twenty-four hours of the inauguration, the president had invented a million or so people who did not exist. He sent his new press secretary, Sean Spicer … to argue his case in a media moment that turned Spicer … into a national joke, which he seemed destined to never recover from. To boot, the president blamed Spicer for not making the million phantom souls seem real.
With this, Fire and Fury depicts a national leader who seems as dependent on his aides as he is independent from them. Whether or not Trump will actually sue Wolff now that these supposed "secrets" are out in the open has yet to be determined.