Books / Trash

You’re A Fucking Liar: Our 15 Favorite Moments In “Fear: Trump In The White House”

Be afraid, be very afraid

“You’re a fucking liar.” This damning sentence concludes Bob Woodward’s recently published and impossible to find book Fear: Trump in the White House, which offers yet another gaudy glimpse into the ongoing conservative camp circus held in the West Wing. Spoken by John Dowd, Trump’s former attorney that was replaced by bug-eyed wacko and frenzied ferret hater Rudy Giuliani, referencing the President, Dowd isn’t exactly telling us anything new. We all know he’s a liar! Trump’s less than solid grasp on the truth (or reality itself) isn’t exactly subtle. However, it’s always a tad more shocking when this is spoken by someone on the inside of that cult-like MAGA crowd.

Fear tells the story of the ongoing Trump train-wreck and boy, it doesn’t disappoint. From hysterical infighting between, well, everyone–Bannon vs. Kushner, Bannon vs. Ivanka, Peter Navarro vs. Gary Cohn, Tillerson vs. everyone in the White House and more, to Trump yelling like an “aggrieved Shakespearean king” in a doomed trial-run of his possible Mueller testimony, Fear is, of course, a big old shit show–just like the President. If Trump was really as much of a ratings machine as he claims, he’d install cameras in that historic house. The goings-on of the administration are just as wildly dramatic and unhinged (if not more so) than the best episode of The Real Housewives franchise.

Woodward’s book was released last week with a bang, previewed by a tape of Trump rambling at Woodward about never being offered an interview, with our baby Kellyanne Conway horning in to scold the President. And of course, Trump did his bit to promote Fear by yelling over Twitter about how the book is “boring and untrue!”

While similar in its insight into the administration, Fear is a slower burn than Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. In Fear, you can sense the crazy accelerating at a faster and faster pace, which translates to how it feels living through this era. In researching for this piece, I had to search for the release date of Fire and Fury and was shocked to discover it was only published earlier this year! By the end of the Trump administration, I’ll have aged so rapidly that I’ll look like the Cryptkeeper.

You can also feel Woodward–a stalwart veteran reporter–trying desperately to figure out how to cover the sheer level of ridiculousness, absurdity, harebrained corruption and foolishness that poses as governance by the Trump trash heap, while maintaining serious journalistic integrity. Sorry, Bob, give it up and give in–write like you’re Star Magazine. That ship has sailed. Because of this, Fire and Fury was certainly more of a page-turner as Wolff clearly reveled in the demented details of Trump’s burger-in-bed munch-fests and bathrobe wanderings. Case in point: this book took me a little less than a week rather than devouring it in one day like Wolff’s.

While Woodward tends to focus on just how inept the Trump administration is with policy, making constant similar conversations with Trump and his staff seem like a nightmarish remake of Groundhog’s Day, this doesn’t mean there aren’t enough salacious details of these morons’ sordid lives to keep you both laughing and building a bunker for the forthcoming apocalypse. You’ve probably already heard about Rob Porter swiping documents (multiple!) off Trump’s desk or Trump calling that tiny racist Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded.” Yet there are more moments squirreled away within the text that are so terrifying they’re funny and vice versa, just like the daily grind of the Trump era.

As with Fire and Fury, I’ve broken down our 15 favorite moments (with GIFs, naturally). Just remember, as that “Mucinex Monster” Bannon (Thank you, Azealia Banks) said in reference to the Trump transition, ‘Hillary Clinton spent her entire adult life getting ready for this moment. Trump hasn’t spent a second getting ready for this moment.” We’re doomed so might as well mock while we can.

1. “I voted every time!…That’s a total lie….you’re right”

One of the most irritating truisms that people try to sell about Trump is that he’s somehow diminishing mentally. Those of us who have witnessed his trash trajectory through New York City know that he’s always been a grifter. For instance, in 2010, Bannon was invited into a meeting with Trump with House Republican investigator and conservative activist David Bossie to discuss a possible presidential run, which at the time, Bannon, busy making batshit films, thought was bonkers. In the conversation, Bossie broke down some of the issues that might come up if Trump decided to run, including the fact that he only voted once in a primary election. Cue this whiplash of a conversation:

“The second big thing,” Bossie said, “is your voting record.”
“What do you mean, my voting record?”
“About how often you vote.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well,” Bossie said, “this is a Republican primary.”
“I vote every time,” Trump said confidently. “I’ve voted every time since I was 18, 20 years old.”
“That’s actually not correct. You know there’s a public record of your vote.” Bossie, the congressional investigator, had a stack of records.
“They don’t know how I vote.”
“No, no, no, not how you vote. How often you vote.” Bannon realized that Trump did not know the most rudimentary business of politics.
“I voted every time,” Trump insisted.
“Actually you’ve never voted in a primary except once in your entire life,” Bossie said, citing the record.
“That’s a fucking lie,” Trump said. “That’s a total lie. Every time I get to vote, I voted.”
“You only voted in one primary,” Bossie said. “It was like in 1988 or something, in the Republican primary.”
“You’re right,” Trump said, pivoting 180 degrees, not missing a beat. “That was for Rudy.” Giuliani ran for mayor in a primary in 1989. “Is that in there?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll get over that,” Trump said.

2. Trump Tower ghost town

After joining in on Trump’s 2016 campaign, Bannon slithered into Trump Tower all decked out in probably 5 shirts, ready to work. He arrived only to find *crickets**tumbleweed*:

He expected to walk in and have a thousand or so people ask, What’s Bannon doing here? He would need a cover story.
He walked into the war room, the rapid response center, with all the TV sets. There was one person there. To Bannon’s eyes, he was a kid.
“Who are you?” Bannon asked.
“Andy Surabian.”
“Where the fuck is everybody?”
“I don’t know,” Surabian replied. “This is like it is on every Sunday.”
“This is the campaign headquarters?”
“Yeah.”
“I mean like the place where the whole thing’s run out of?”
Yeah. Surabian pointed out Jason Miller’s office—the senior communications director—and Hope Hicks’s—the young former model who had become the campaign’s main press person and perhaps the staff member closest to Trump. Surabian was the war room director.
“Do you guys work weekends?”
Surabian said yeah again. Some worked in D.C., some guys phoned in.
Bannon tried once more. “On weekends, does this place have people in it?”
“This is about average.”

3. MAKA!! 

Did you have any idea that guilty goober Paul Manafort was into, well, kink?! Me neither. On a related note, does anyone have any bleach? Woodward cited this moment from the campaign that I’m beating myself up for missing, while also wishing I could forget:

Bannon felt sorry for Manafort. The campaign manager had been astonished at the success and power of Trump’s Twitter account, and had started one of his own. But the New York Daily News had run this item in April: “Make America kinky again,” noting that Manafort—perhaps unaware that Twitter was a public forum—had followed a Midtown bondage and swingers’ club called Decadence. “Manafort was following the swanky spank spot—which bills itself as the city’s ‘most intimate swing club.’

4. Baby Rudy needs his changing

Given Trump’s supposed foray into water sports, I’m not sure I’d go anywhere near a diaper reference, but Trump, being the petty asshole he is, couldn’t help but yell at Rudy Giuliani, then just a supporting figure on the campaign, for defending him poorly on the TV around the time of the notorious Access Hollywood tape. All babies should be insulted:

“Rudy, you’re a baby!” Trump said loudly. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?”

5. “Money for everyone!” *Boots up printer*

For a supposed businessman, Trump has the financial understanding of Scrooge McDuck. After winning the election, Trump set aside time from golfing and tweeting for meetings, including with Goldman Sach’s Gary Cohn. Talking about economics, Trump thought that it would be easy to get the economy in order…I mean, just print more money! What could go wrong?!:

Next, Cohn repeated what everyone was saying: Interest rates were going to go up over the foreseeable future.

I agree, Trump said. “We should just go borrow a lot of money right now, hold it, and then sell it and make money.”

Cohn was astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding. He tried to explain. If you as the federal government borrow money through issuing bonds, you are increasing the U.S. deficit. What do you mean? Trump asked. Just run the presses—print money.

You don’t get to do it that way, Cohn said.

6. Shipping Sean over to Afghanistan

Sadly, our favorite hapless Easter bunny and Dippin’ Dots obsessive Sean Spicer doesn’t make too many appearances in Fear. I missed him! Therefore, whenever he does appear, you’ve got to relish it, like this exchange with General Mattis:

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was a commander in the Naval Reserves, tried several times to persuade Mattis to appear on Sunday talk shows on behalf of the administration. The answer was always no.

“Sean,” Mattis finally said, “I’ve killed people for a living. If you call me again, I’m going to fucking send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?”

7. The Mucinex monster vs. B-list Wes Anderson characters

Of all the rivalries inside the White House, Bannon and “Javanka’s” loathing for each other is prime hilarity. Just the optics of Bannon’s “I just rolled out of a dumpster” get-up and Jared and Ivanka’s New York jet set moneyed class aesthetic is ripe for parody, as exemplified by this paranoia-infused blow-up between the trio suspecting each other of leaking to the press:

Bannon was convinced that Jared had leaked a recent story to Britain’s Daily Mail about Trump blowing up at him and Priebus and blocking them from traveling on Air Force One to Florida. It wasn’t true they had been kicked off the trip. Both had declined to travel that day. “You fucking set me up,” he said to Kushner. “You trashed Reince in this story. And I know you did it.”

Kushner vehemently denied it, and seemed offended at the accusation. For his part, he was convinced that Bannon had leaked a story to The New York Times about his December 2016 meeting with the Russian ambassador, adding fuel to the allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.

During a meeting in Priebus’s corner office Bannon and Ivanka got into an altercation. “You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon finally screamed at Ivanka. “You’re nothing but a fucking staffer!” She had to work through the chief of staff like everyone else, he said. There needed to be some order. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

“I’m not a staffer!” she shouted. “I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter”—she really used the title—“and I’m never going to be a staffer!”

8. Reince the Rat

As has already been established, Trump is essentially a mean girl, calling everyone around him names. Nobody really is exempt. But, certain people get the brunt of it, including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Rats everywhere should be suing for defamation of character:

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Trump said. He knew about the formal organization charts, and hated them. “Forget about Reince. He’s like a little rat. He just scurries around. You don’t even have to pay any attention to him. Just come talk to me. You don’t have to go through him.”

 

9. What iconic author is your Twitter?

Of course, we all know the only reading or writing Trump gets done is via Twitter, doing it at what Priebus called, “the witching hour.” But, did you know he considers himself a type of classic tweet author? Somewhere in the beyond, ole Hemingway just shotgunned a drink:

“Later, when Twitter announced the number of permissible characters in a single tweet was being doubled from 140 to 280, Trump told Porter he thought the change made sense on one level. Now he would be able to flesh out his thoughts and add more depth.

“It’s a good thing,” Trump said, “but it’s a bit of a shame because I was the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”

10. The President doesn’t read (or plan)

This one isn’t too much of a shock and yet, somehow it feels fresh every time. Trump never reads any of his briefings and generally has no idea what’s going on from day-to-day with exception of whatever he learns from his friends on Fox. Chilling. Also I want to start working at 11:30:

Before the president went up to the residence at the end of each day, Porter handed him a briefing book with background papers, policy memos and his schedule for the next day.

The next morning he would come down to the Oval Office at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., or even 11:30.

“What’s on my schedule for the day?” he would ask, having perhaps glanced at the book, or maybe not at all. He conveyed the belief that improvising was his strength. He could read a situation. Or the room. Or the moment as he had during the presidential campaign.

Trump liked to do things spur of the moment, Porter concluded, to fly by the seat of his pants. He acted like doing too much advance preparation would diminish his skills in improvising. He did not want to be derailed by forethought. As if a plan would take away his power, his sixth sense.

11. Neither does Chief of Staff John Kelly

While we knew Trump doesn’t, can’t or won’t read, did you know his Chief of Staff has no attention span either? Does everyone in the West Wing need Adderall?

Zach Fuentes, Kelly’s assistant, warned the senior staff in the West Wing that Kelly had a short attention span and was easily distracted.

“He’s not a detail guy,” said Fuentes, who had also been Kelly’s assistant at Homeland Security. “Never put more than one page in front of him. Even if he’ll glance at it, he’s not going to read the whole thing. Make sure you underline or put in bold the main points.” However there were some subjects, particularly about the military, Fuentes said, that would engage Kelly’s full attention and he might want to have a long conversation.

Normally, Fuentes said, “you’ll have 30 seconds to talk to him. If you haven’t grabbed his attention, he won’t focus.”

12. But it is the worst job he’s ever had

*plays world’s smallest violin*:

In a small group meeting in his office one day, Kelly said of the president, “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

13. Round numbers are good!

Working on the tax bill, which Trump wanted to call the…wait for it…”Cut, Cut, Cut Bill!” probably because he could envision himself yelling that at all his gape-mouthed, dull-eyed, red hat-wearing followers, he also had opinions on what to change the tax rates to: only round numbers. ROUND NUMBERS GOOD! COMPLICATED NUMBERS BAD!:

“I like these big round numbers,” he said. “Ten percent, 20 percent, 25 percent.” Good, solid numbers that would be easy to sell.

Mnuchin, Cohn and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said there needed to be analysis, study and discussion on the impact on revenue, the deficit and the relation to expected federal spending.

“I want to know what the numbers are going to be,” Trump said, throwing out numbers again. “I think they ought to be 10, 20 and 25.”

He dismissed any effort to crunch the numbers. A small change in rates could have a surprising impact on taxes collected by the U.S. Treasury.

“I don’t care about any of that,” Trump said. Solid, round numbers were key. “That’s what people can understand,” he said. “That’s how I’m going to sell it.”

14. Everyone will learn he’s an idiot

After Dowd realized suddenly that Trump was incapable of telling the truth in a practice testimony to Mueller, he went to Mueller and tried to explain the situation to him: We’re being run by an idiot. And if he testifies, everyone will know it (PSSSST: We already do):

“Bob,” Dowd said to Mueller, “here’s my point. You’re asking me to sit next to a president who’ll get to the third question, screw it up and thereafter, because I’m going to counsel him, he just doesn’t know and he doesn’t remember. So he’s going to say I don’t remember 20 times. And I’m telling you, Bob, he doesn’t remember. And by the way, if you’d like I will get General Kelly in here to tell you he doesn’t remember. And the reason he doesn’t remember is very simple. One, these facts and these events are of little moment in his life.” Most had taken place early in his presidency.

“All of a sudden he’s the boss. But he’s getting information from all quarters, including the media every day. That is like tonnage. And the fact is, I don’t want him looking like an idiot. And I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with that idiot for? He can’t even remember X, Y, Z with respect to his FBI director.”

15. I’m a good witness!

According to Trump, though, he’s an expert witness. The best witness. The greatest witness you’ve ever seen. There has literally LITERALLY never been a better witness in America:

“What are they going to think when Mueller requests an indictment for 1001 violations?” Dowd asked, referring to false statements.

“No, no, I’m a good witness. I’ll be a real good witness.”

Dowd knew this was self-delusion, total bullshit. He had earlier told the president an anecdote from a lawyer friend in Florida who had once taken Trump’s deposition. When the lawyer had asked him what he did for a living, it had taken Trump about 16 pages to answer the question.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd said again.

 

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