Fire and Fury: Trump says book is ‘fiction’ and author a ‘fraud’

President Trump: “We didn’t have an interview”

Donald Trump has rejected doubts over his mental health raised in a bombshell new book, describing the book as “fiction” and the author as a “fraud”.

Michael Wolff’s account of the administration’s first year suggests that even those closest to Mr Trump have questioned his fitness for office.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with senior Republicans at Camp David, the president disputed the account.

He said he was a “very excellent student” and a “tremendous success”.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Trump tweeted a rebuttal to the contents of the book, arguing that he was a “very stable genius” whose “two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart”.

The book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House – the accuracy of which has been disputed by the White House and queried by others – paints the president as impatient and unable to grasp policy, prone to rambling and repeating himself.

The fallout from the claimed revelations in Mr Wolff’s book has overshadowed the Camp David meeting – a gathering of key Republicans designed to thrash out legislative priorities for 2018.

Mr Trump gave a press conference at the presidential retreat, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Republicans.

The president, who has previously derided Camp David and opted instead to stay at his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, told reporters that the retreat was a “very special place” with a “feeling you don’t have in many places”.

He said the Republicans gathered had “a couple of incredible meetings” and discussed “security, infrastructure, the military, all types of military situations”.

The book everyone’s talking about

Fire and Fury went on sale early on Friday, days ahead of its scheduled release, amid the president lawyers’ attempts to block its publication. It has become an instant bestseller.

The book describes a Trump team shocked by their own win on election night, White House staffers saying Mr Trump’s “mental powers were slipping”, and senior administration officials calling Mr Trump an “idiot”.

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Media captionMichael Wolff tells the BBC that Donald Trump’s team came to believe he could not function as president

It has also sparked a public rift between Mr Trump and his former aide Steve Bannon, who is quoted as accusing Mr Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr of “treasonous” behaviour in meeting a group of Russians.

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Mr Bannon and the author have both been the target of the president’s ire over the past few days – the former cried when he lost his job last year, Mr Trump said; the latter had written a book “full of lies”, he added.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN that he had “no reason to question” Mr Trump’s mental fitness.

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Media captionDozens queued for the release of Fire and Fury

Trump is not letting this one go

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News Washington

Perceived slights, insults and questions about his intelligence. If Donald Trump’s recent Twitter feed is any indication, these are the topics on the president’s mind as he settles in for the night and when he rises in the morning.

Given the daunting tasks facing the administration and Congress in the coming weeks, some of his allies and aides at Camp David may view the president’s concerns as misdirected.

That Mr Trump feels compelled to respond to criticism, however, should come as little surprise. This is particularly true when the topic is his intellect, the strength of which he frequently boasts.

In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff recounts tales by White House aides of a president with a short attention span, bouncing from issue to issue like a pinball. In recent interviews, the author has said the president’s aggressive reaction to his book proves this point.

It seems, however, that Mr Trump’s counterattack is just getting started.

What is the Republican meeting about?

The Camp David summit came two weeks before the end of Mr Trump’s first year in office, and was designed to tie up unfinished Republican business.

The agenda was not made public, but the key issues were expected to be:

Money: Or more specifically, how legislators can agree on funding the federal government for the current fiscal year. If they don’t do so before 19 January, there is a risk of a government shutdown.

How to win in 2018: Congressional elections are 10 months away, with all 435 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs, and another 33 in the Senate. Democrat wins later in 2018 would make it much more difficult for Mr Trump and Congressional Republicans to push through their policies.

Immigration: Namely, what protection will be given to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children

The opioid crisis: These drugs killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr Trump has promised to address the situation, but his “opioid czar” Kellyanne Conway did not appear to be at Camp David.


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