JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

Fire And Fury– Or Just A Big Baby– Inside the Trump White House


First thing yesterday morning, I cancelled all my appointments, my morning tennis game and lunch, and waited for the clock to roll around to  9 A.M. for the delivery of my copy of the new Trump tell-all book. The publishers of Michael Wolff’s Fire And Fury: Inside the Trump White House, in response to a cease-and-desist letter from Trump’s lawyers, had decided to bring forward the publication date to yesterday morning.

I had pre-ordered my copy several days earlier after reading some delicious snippets in a couple of magazines and newspapers. Publication date was Tuesday January 9th — but now, yipee!– I was going to get a copy of the book four days early. Or was I?

Fire And Fury Delayed

I checked my Amazon account as soon as I woke, and it showed that my copy was still slated for delivery next Tuesday. That can’t be, I thought, but decided to make sure while I waited for 9 A.M. I got through to Amazon Customer Service (not always an easy feat) and asked whether I would be getting my Kindle copy today since the page was still showing a Tuesday delivery.

“That’s correct,” said  Amazon customer service. Kindle copies are different to print copies, she said, so I’d be getting my copy on Tuesday.

Okay, so I admit, I then acted a little bit like a big baby myself. Distressed by the idea of having to wait while the rest of the world drooled over the pages of this best seller, I decided to tweet as follows:


Fire And Fury Delivered

Shortly after 9 A.M., the Amazon customer representative to whom I had spoken earlier, called me back!!!! She told me she’d made an error, and that I would be getting my Kindle copy that morning after all. As we spoke, I saw it appear in my Kindle app on my Ipad. Of course, I had to set the record straight:


 Fire And Fury Reviewed

Of course, the book is every bit as delicious a read as one can imagine. Author Michael Wolff has said he had unlimited, unfettered access to the Trump White House, and that he has recordings and notes of the interviews he conducted with dozens of insiders. This shows. The book is peppered with juicy anecdotes about all the major and minor players surrounding Trump, and their miserable little machinations to get the better of each other.

However, many portions of the book will be all too familiar to avid newspaper readers and cable TV News fans like myself. Additionally, big chunks of the narrative are dominated by the rants and raves of former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. It looks like Bannon is the insider with whom Wolff spent a majority of his time. Somewhere, in the book, Bannon is described as a Rasputin-type presence, and that is definitely an image that resonates throughout the book. One is almost tempted to feel sorry for Trump.

Okay, okay. I said almost.

For much of the book, Trump appears as a whining, complaining, ignorant, big baby. Here are some of my favorite excerpts starting with Wolff’s observations about how winning the presidency came as a surprise, even shock, to Trump and his coterie, and why Trump could not adapt to his new role:

Rodents in the White House

Trump’s winter residence in Palm Beach

“He was totally off-kilter because everything in his orderly world had been thrown on its head[…]Trump found the White House, an old building with only sporadic upkeep and piecemeal renovations — as well as a famous roach and rodent problem — to be vexing and even a little scary[…] he retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms […]

“He reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then, he imposed a set of new rules: nobody touch anything especially not his toothbrush[…] If he was not having his six-thirty dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls.”

Pissed Off

Wolff writes that Trump did not enjoy his Inauguration Day. “The president-elect  woke up on inaugural morning complaining about the accommodations at Blair House […] Too hot, bad water pressure, bad bed

“His temper did not improve. Throughout the morning he was visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears; almost every word he addressed to her was sharp and peremptory  […] Instead of wearing a game face, going into the inaugural events, the president-elect wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

Who’s the Smart One?

My Kindle Trump Collection

While, according to Wolff, Trump “took some pleasure in pointing out that [his sons] were in the back of the room when God handed out brains,” it did not appear to his staffers that Trump was any smarter. Wolff writes: “Insulting Donald Trump’s intelligence was both the thing you could not do and the thing […]that everybody was guilty of.”

“Trump didn’t read. He didn’t even really skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate […] Others concluded that he didn’t read because he just didn’t have to, and that in fact this was one of his key attributes as a populist. He was post-literate – total television.”  

Leaking White House

“The president couldn’t stop talking. He was plaintive and self-pitying […] he would get on the phone, and in unguarded ramblings to friends and others […] he would vent, largely at the media and his staff. In paranoid or sadistic fashion, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit.) Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short — a midget.) Kushner was a suck-up. Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too.) Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.”

“His callers, largely because they found his conversation peculiar, alarming, or completely contrary to reason and common sense, often overrode what they might otherwise have assumed to be the confidential nature of the calls and shared the content with someone else.” 

White Trash?

Finally, what may possibly be one of my most favorite snippets in the book — so far : “Trump’s understanding of his own essential nature was even more precise,” writes Wolff, and describes a trip Trump made on his own plane with a billionaire friend before becoming president. The friend had brought along a foreign model, and “Trump trying to move in on his friend’s date, urged a stop in Atlantic City […] His friend assured the model that there was nothing to recommend Atlantic City. It was a place overrun by white trash.

“What is this ‘white trash’?” asked the model.

“They’re people just like me,” said Trump, “only they’re poor.”


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