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Author Michael Wolff: Trump ‘like a pinball shooting off the side’

Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter speaks at

Michael Wolff of The Hollywood Reporter speaks at the Newseum in Washington, April 12, 2017. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — The author of an explosive book about President Donald Trump said on Friday that “100 percent of the people around him” question his fitness to run the country, but Trump’s supporters and spokeswoman strongly defended his ability to hold the office.

The book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by New York author Michael Wolff, paints a picture of a chaotic administration and a president whom insiders describe as being like a child needing instant gratification.

Wolff, on the “Today” show, said senior officials in Trump’s White House insulted the president’s intelligence. “They say he is a moron, an idiot,” Wolff said. “The man does not read, does not listen. He is like a pinball shooting off the side.”

Asked how many in the White House hold this view, Wolff responded: “Let me put a marker in the sand here: 100 hundred percent of the people around him.”

Wolff said people told him that Trump repeated stories, word for word, every 25 or 30 minutes at the beginning of his term but now it is every 10 minutes. Asked what that indicates, Wolff said, “I will quote Steve Bannon: He’s lost it.”

Trump friend and ally Chris Ruddy, CEO of the right-wing Newsmax website, disputed on CNN that characterization, calling it “so absurd, so ridiculous.” He said he has been with the president, and said, “He is not psychologically unfit. He has not lost it.”

In another dispute, Wolff said he had access to the White House and interviewed Trump. Wolff said, “I absolutely spoke with the president, but whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it was certainly not off the record.”

Trump denied Wolff’s claim in a Thursday evening tweet.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Friday, also denied that Wolff interviewed Trump, saying his requests for an interview were rejected many times.

The behind-the-scenes book continued to roil Washington and fuel the television news shows after Trump ordered his personal attorney Charles Harder to send cease-and-desist letters to Wolff, his publisher and the book’s often-quoted Stephen Bannon, an ex-aide to Trump.

The publisher responded to Trump’s threat of a lawsuit to block publication of the book by moving its publication date up to Friday, three days before the scheduled release. On “Today,” Wolff said the president’s action boosted sales.

“Where do I send a box of chocolates?” he said.

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