Trump claims White House expose is ‘a work of fiction’

US president says he is ‘a very stable genius’ before renewing attacks on ‘Fire and Fury’ author

US President Donald Trump on Saturday rejected an author's accusations that he is mentally unfit for office and said his track record showed he is a "stable genius." Video: The White House

 

US president Donald Trump renewed his attacks on author Michael Wolff at a news conference on Saturday, denouncing his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, as a “work of fiction”.

Surrounded by senior Republicans at an unscheduled press conference at Camp David, Trump denounced Mr Wolff as a “fraud” and suggested that the libel laws in the US were in some way to blame for the book.

“It’s a disgrace that he can do something like this,” Trump said of the book, which was released on Friday and contained damaging allegations about his presidency. “Libel laws are very weak in this country. If they were stronger, hopefully, you would not have something like that happen.”

Trump also set out his intellectual and business achievements, following growing public commentary about his fitness for office on the back of Mr Wolff’s book.

Among the series of allegations made by Mr Wolff is that those around Trump have noticed a mental decline in the president, highlighting in particular his tendency to repeat expressions in swift succession.

“I went to the best colleges . . . I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top businesspeople, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won,” he said.

He also noted that “Sloppy Steve” – a reference to his former aide Steve Bannon, who gives damaging quotes in the book – was “now looking for a job”.

Tweet:

Earlier, Trump also defended on Twitter his mental state.

In a series of early morning tweets from Camp David, where he is hosting a meeting of senior Republican politicians, Trump tackled the growing commentary about his mental health head-on, describing himself as a “genius . . . and a very stable genius at that”.

Accusing Democrats and the media of “taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook” by focusing on his mental stability and intelligence, he said that throughout his life his two greatest assets had 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 TV Star to President of the United States (on my first try),” he tweeted.

“I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius . . . and a very stable genius at that!”

Mental health

The tweets come days after reports emerged that members of Congress – mostly Democrats – were briefed by Yale psychologist Dr Bandy X Lee on Trump’s mental health last month.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was also asked about the president’s mental health on Fox News on Friday, describing the reports in the book as “absolutely outrageous” and “simply untrue”.

Mr Trump is hosting Republican leaders, including House speaker Paul Ryan, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell at Camp David this weekend for a strategy meeting to discuss November’s mid-term elections, policy objectives for 2018, and the looming budget deadline on January 20th.

Earlier on Saturday, Wolff said the revelations in his book were likely to bring an end to Trump’s time in the White House. He told BBC radio that his conclusion that Trump was not fit to do the job was becoming a widespread view.

“I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect,” Wolff said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

“The story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job . . . Suddenly everywhere people are going, ‘Oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes’. That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end . . . this presidency.”

Trump had already dismissed the book as full of lies. In a series of tweets on Friday, he denied ever speaking to Mr Wolff for the book and lashed out at his one-time adviser Bannon.

Mr Wolff has defended his work and people have queued up in bookshops across the US to buy copies of it, after its release was brought forward following the threat of legal action by the Trump administration.

While several analysts, as well as Trump allies, questioned the veracity of some of Mr Wolff’s claims, the controversy has increased pressure on Trump, particularly in relation to comments attributed to Mr Bannon about the investigation into ties between his presidential campaign and Russia. Additional reporting – Reuters/Guardian