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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff

Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff made all the news shows (plus late night) as required political reading. I downloaded a sample and based on that, read the whole book. I was surprised it did not read like a hatchet job. There was some nuance and much of it seemed to depend on the views of insiders, including Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and others. Although Wolff considers himself a journalist, he does seem to violate typical media ethics, like respect "off-the-record" comments. Having said that, it does ring true based on multiple accounts of the Trump White House. He added to my perspective on the inner workings, such as the multiple power groups: Bannon and the alt-right; Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and other family members (generally more moderate, inexperienced, plus their own unique agenda); and Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and other traditional Republicans; plus other hangers on such as Anthony Scaramucci. Plus Mike Pence and the various generals who apparently were the adults in the room. Wolff did not talk much about them, apparently because they were closed-lipped and provided no information. After nine months the family, most generals and Pence remained, but almost all the rest were gone.

Unbelievable chaos ensued, especially from Trump himself. Much of the book attempted to explain how all of this was possible: 1) the infantile behavior of Trump, demanding immediate gratification constantly, suffering from any criticism no matter what, blaming others for any perceived defeats or shortcomings, plus the bullying and bragging; 2) how the various groups fought for power and attention; 3) the mutually ballistic nature of Trump versus the media; and 4) the strange behavior of most of the major characters.

Much of the Epilogue was about Bannon and his attempts to dominate the political far right, including his declaration of running for president in 2020. Wolff's predictions at the end: Rex Tillerson would be fired as Secretary of State, he would be replaced by Nicky Haley, and Haley would be replaced as UN ambassador by Dina Powell (which turned our wrong except for Tillerson).

Plus: Katy Tur's Unbelievable: My Front-row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History. I read this last year and it provides some background to Trump's character and tactics. She was picked early to follow Trump, based on her low woman on the totem pole status at NBC. She saw virtually all of his political events. Two interesting points. First, she could make a claim of sexual harassment , possibly sexual assault , based on his behavior on the campaign trail. Second, she made a good case that it was Comey's bringing up the email case late in the campaign that caused Clinton to lose. This was just after the Access Hollywood tape came out and Trump seemed finished.

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