Author of Trump book contradicts president, says he interviewed him

The book claims the Trump team was shocked and horrified by his election win, that his wife Melania was in tears of sadness on election night and more.

US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - The author of a deeply critical book about Donald Trump’s first year in office said on Friday he had spoken with the president while working on it, contradicting Trump’s assertion that he had never talked to the writer for the book and had authorized “Zero access” to the White House.

Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House went on sale on Friday, its release pulled forward after published excerpts this week set off a political firestorm, threats by Trump lawyers of legal action and an effort to halt publication.

The book, dismissed by Trump as full of lies, depicts a chaotic White House, a president who was ill-prepared to win the office in 2016, and Trump aides who scorned his abilities.

Wolff told NBC on Friday that he stood by his reporting and had talked to the president for the book.

“I absolutely spoke to the president. Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it was certainly not off the record,” he said on NBC’s Today programme. Wolff added that he had spoken to people who spoke to Trump on a daily, “sometimes minute by minute” basis.

Asked to clarify what he meant when he wrote that Trump’s entire circle questioned his fitness for office, Wolff said, “Let me put a marker in the sand here: 100 percent of the people around him ... They all say he is like a child. And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It’s all about him.”

On Thursday evening, Trump tweeted, “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book.”

“Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!” Trump added.

The early excerpts have also caused a deep public rift with Trump’s former chief strategist and top campaign aide, Steve Bannon, over his comments in the book about Trump and his family, shaking the Republican president’s populist movement.