Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Highlights from the new book:

* Lewandowski and Hope Hicks, the PR aide put on the campaign by Ivanka Trump, had an affair that ended in a public fight on the street…

* Shortly after Lewandowski, with whom Hicks had an on-and-off romantic relationship, was fired in June 2016 for clashing with Trump family members, Hicks sat in Trump Tower with Trump and his sons, worrying about Lewandowski’s treatment in the press and wondering aloud how she might help him. Trump, who otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a protective and even paternal way, looked up and said, “Why? You’ve already done enough for him. You’re the best piece of tail he’ll ever have,” sending Hicks running from the room.

* The silver lining of the ignominy Melania Trump had to endure after the Billy Bush tape was that now there was no way her husband could become president. Donald Trump’s marriage was perplexing to almost everybody around him—or it was, anyway, for those without private jets and many homes. He and Melania spent relatively little time together. They could go days at a time without contact, even when they were both in Trump Tower. Often she did not know where he was, or take much notice of that fact. Her husband moved between between residences as he would move between rooms. Along with knowing little about his whereabouts, she knew little about his business, and took at best modest interest in it. An absentee father for his first four children, Trump was even more absent for his fifth, Barron, his son with Melania. Now on his third marriage, he told friends he thought he had finally perfected the art: live and let live—“Do your own thing.” He was a notorious womanizer, and during the campaign became possibly the world’s most famous masher. While nobody would ever say Trump was sensitive when it came to women, he had many views about how to get along with them, including a theory he discussed with friends about how the more years between an older man and a younger woman, the less the younger woman took an older man’s cheating personally. Still, the notion that this was a marriage in name only was far from true. He spoke of Melania frequently when she wasn’t there. He admired her looks—often, awkwardly for her, in the presence of others. She was, he told people proudly and without irony, a “trophy wife.” And while he may not have quite shared his life with her, he gladly shared the spoils of it. “A happy wife is a happy life,” he said, echoing a popular rich-man truism. He also sought Melania’s approval. (He sought the approval of all the women around him, who were wise to give it.) In 2014, when he first seriously began to consider running for president, Melania was one of the few who thought it was possible he could win.

It was a punchline for his daughter, Ivanka, who had carefully distanced herself from the campaign. With a never-too-hidden distaste for her stepmother, Ivanka would say to friends: All you have to know about Melania is that she thinks if he runs he’ll certainly win.

* Throughout his life, Trump had few close friends of any kind, but when he began his campaign for president he had almost no friends in politics. The only two actual politicians with whom Trump was close were Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, and both men were in their own way peculiar and isolated. And to say that he knew nothing—nothing at all—about the basic intellectual foundations of the job was a comic understatement. Early in the campaign, in a Producers-worthy scene, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

* For quite obvious reasons, no president before Trump and few politicians ever have come out of the real estate business: a lightly regulated market, based on substantial debt with exposure to frequent market fluctuations, it often depends on government favor, and is a preferred exchange currency for problem cash—money laundering. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Jared’s father Charlie, Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric, and his daughter Ivanka, as well as Trump himself, all supported their business enterprises to a greater or lesser extent working in the dubious limbo of international free cash flow and gray money. Charlie Kushner, to whose real estate business interests Trump’s son-in-law and most important aide was wholly tied, had already spent time in a federal prison for tax evasion, witness tampering, and making illegal campaign donations. Modern politicians and their staffs perform their most consequential piece of opposition research on themselves. If the Trump team had vetted their candidate, they would have reasonably concluded that heightened ethical scrutiny could easily put them in jeopardy. But Trump pointedly performed no such effort.

* Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends’ wives into bed.

* Ten days before Donald Trump’s inauguration as the forty-fifth president, a group of young Trump staffers—the men in regulation Trump suits and ties, the women in the Trump-favored look of high boots, short skirts, and shoulder-length hair—were watching President Barack Obama give his farewell speech as it streamed on a laptop in the transition offices.

[Who is Trump boffing these days?]

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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