WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pushed back Saturday on questions raised about his mental acuity and emotional state by a bombshell book — by declaring on Twitter that he is not only “really smart,” but his success shows he is “a very stable genius.”
In an unscheduled meeting with reporters, Trump was asked why he felt it necessary to post those tweets about author Michael Wolff and his book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” published Friday after Trump threatened a lawsuit.
“Only because I went to one of the best colleges. I was an excellent student, came out, made billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television, and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you have heard, ran for president one time and won,” he said.
Trump also denied Wolff’s claim he had spoken to him for three hours over the several months he reported on the book — “it is in his imagination” — and blamed Wolff’s ability to publish what the president called “a work of fiction” because of weak libel laws.
Speaking of Trump’s tweets, presidential historian Timothy Naftali, on CNN, said, “This shows the book has gotten under the president’s skin.”
In the book, Wolff said everyone around Trump questions not only his intelligence, but also whether he is beginning to lose his edge. When asked on the “Today Show” on Friday about those stories, Wolff said, “I will quote Steve Bannon: ‘He’s lost it.’”
Asked about a New York Times report that Trump ordered his White House counsel to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not step aside from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump said, “The story in the Times was off, but everything I’ve done is 100 percent proper.” Asked how the story was off, Trump said, “You will find out.”
Trump also again denied collusion between his campaign and Russia, but sidestepped a question about whether he would sit for questioning by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has obtained a guilty plea and indicted two officials in his Russian election interference investigation.
“Just so you understand, there has been no collusion or crime. In theory, everyone tells me I’m not under investigation. Maybe Hillary [Clinton] is. I do not know but I am not,” Trump said, as he urged an end to the probe. “It is making our country look foolish.”
Trump began his day at Camp David — where he is meeting with top Republican legislators on this year’s legislative priorities — with tweets about winning the presidency on one try and his success in business and reality television, saying that proves his sharpness and abilities.
He accused Democrats and the mainstream media of using a tactic they used against President Ronald Reagan.
“Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lap dogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence,” he tweeted.
“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star . . .
“ . . . to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius . . . a very stable genius at that!”
Speaking to reporters, Trump said he was “heartened” by “so many of the people that I talk about in terms of fake news actually came to the defense of this great administration, and even myself, because they know the author and they know he is a fraud.”
Journalists including New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman have pointed out errors in the book, and articles have been written about Wolff’s exaggerations, some claiming that he made up stories.
Wolff stands by his book, saying he has recordings and notes of interviews of top officials and observers, and much of the book picks up on previous reporting and the president’s own tweets, speeches and statements that have raised questions about his focus.
Preceding that string of three morning tweets defending his intelligence, Trump personally attacked Wolff and Bannon, his former White House chief strategist and campaign chairman, a practice his White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has defended as his policy of always punching back against critics.
“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job,” Trump tweeted Friday night. “Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
Trump also took a shot at ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross, who is back on the job after a month’s suspension for an inaccurate report about the White House, and celebrated news that the African-American unemployment rate fell to 6.8 percent, its lowest rate in 45 years.