′Fire and Fury′ paints strange picture of Trump family ties | News | DW | 05.01.2018
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'Fire and Fury' paints strange picture of Trump family ties

Michael Wolff's new book describes the president's "perplexing" marriage and absentee parenting. The account of life inside the White House depicts an isolated president.

The author of "Fire and Fury," an incendiary new book about the Trump White House, has made it clear that his book is by no means a historical record.

Rather, writes journalist Michael Wolff, the book is a he-said-she-said composite picture of Trump's political and personal lives.

"Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book," Wolff says in the opening pages of his sought-after tome, which sold out in some areas shortly after its release on Friday.

The accounts collected by Wolff paint President Donald Trump as a lonely figure, someone with few true supporters and even fewer friends, including inside his own family. Staffers, including former advisor-turned-foe Steven Bannon, describe how no one — not even Trump himself — thought he would win the presidency, and how even after this victory, everyone around Trump treated him like an incompetent child.

While tales of strategizing against Russia revelations are nothing new, the book offers an insight into one aspect of the president's life that has been kept relatively under wraps — how White House insiders view Trump's family relationships.

Wolff describes how campaign staffers were surprised to see that he and his wife Melania "could go days at a time without contact," spending relatively little time together, even when they were both in Trump Tower, before moving into the White House.

"Trump's marriage was perplexing to almost everybody around him," writes Wolff, who says the first couple has adopted a "live and let live" approach to their relationship. The president also reportedly called Melania a "trophy wife" often, sometimes even in her presence.

According to the book, Melania cried on election night, because becoming First Lady "would destroy her carefully sheltered life."

Ivanka Trump - Donald Trump and his children (from left) Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka arrive to Toronto, Ont, April 16, 2012 to officially open Trump International Hotel (picture alliance/Newscom/iPhotoLive.com/A. Urosevic)

Donald Jr. and Eric were said to be known to White House staffers as Uday and Qusay, after Saddam Hussein's sons

'An absentee father'

"Fire and Fury" presents an even more scathing picture of President Trump's relationships with his children.

"An absentee father for his first four children, Trump was even more absent for his fifth, Barron, his son with Melania."

As for his elder children, the book makes no mention of Tiffany, Trump's daughter with his second wife Marla Maples, and his two other sons are portrayed as comical figures with little agency of their own.

"Don Jr., thirty-nine, and Eric, thirty-three, existed in an enforced, infantile relationship to their father, a role that embarrassed them, but one that they also professionally embraced."

According to Wolff's sources, the pair had entertained hopes of being involved in their father's administration as closely as their sister Ivanka.

Uday and Qusay

"Don Jr. and Eric — behind their backs known to Trump insiders as Uday and Qusay, after the sons of Saddam Hussein — wondered if there couldn't somehow be two parallel White House structures, one dedicated to their father's big-picture views, personal appearance and salesmanship, and the other concerned with day-to-day management issues."

The two eventually became subjects of ridicule — not least because of Donald Jr.'s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower, a move Steven Bannon infamously dubbed "treasonous" in an interview with Wolff.

As for Ivanka, often touted as the "smart one" and Trump's favorite, Wolff writes that their relationship was "in no way a conventional family relationship. If it wasn't pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. It was business. Building the brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House — it was all business."

According to journalist Joe Scarborough, who knows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner well, the couple have affection for the president, but remain detached from his flamboyant positions and statements.

"They have tolerance but few illusions," as Wolff puts it.

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