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10 stunning claims about Trump White House from 'Fire and Fury'

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 4:03 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 4:10 PM

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House – What You Need to Know

President Donald Trump didn’t want to win 2016’s election, got angry over celebrity snubs at his inauguration and eats fast food partially because of his fear of being poisoned, according to a book about his administration set to be released next week.

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The claims are among a slew of allegations made in journalist Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Cobbled together from 18 months’ worth of conversations with Trump and senior staff members and more than 200 interviews, the book was set to hit shelves Jan. 9. However, publisher Henry Hold & Company moved the release date up to Friday “due to unprecedented demand,” according to CNN.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday denied allegations made in the book, calling it a “complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip.”

Here are some of the most stunning claims taken from excerpts of the book that have been released:

Trump didn’t want, or expect, to win the presidential election

Wolff wrote that Trump never set out to win 2016’s presidential election, according to an excerpt published by New York magazine. Instead, he aimed to bolster his brand.

“Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary,” Wolff wrote. “His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared (Kushner) would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”

Flynn knew he would have problems with Russia ties

Trump’s win was so unexpected that he and members of his team never bothered to deal with potential conflicts of interest, according to Wolff. Among those who knew they could face problems if Trump won the election was former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

>> Related: Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI in Russia probe

“Flynn… had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech,” Wolff wrote. “’Well, it would only be a problem if we won,’ ­Flynn assured them.”

Flynn was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after reports surfaced that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador the U.S. He pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to the president or his campaign team.

Trump likes to eat fast food because he’s afraid of being poisoned

According to Wolff, one of the reasons the president likes to eat at McDonald’s is because of his longtime fear of being poisoned.

“Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade,” Wolff wrote, according to an excerpt obtained by CNBC.

Trump was angry at his inauguration

In an excerpt published by New York magazine, Wolff wrote:

“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

Rupert Murdoch called Trump an ‘idiot’

The president is a fan of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, but Wolff wrote that the feeling is not mutual.

Donald Trump called Murdoch after a December 2016 meeting with executives representing tech giants including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, an excerpt published by New York magazine. Among other topics, the group discussed H-1B visas, the visa used by employers to bring foreign talent into the country.

Trump told Murdoch that, “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation.”

>> Related: Tillerson slams reports he considered resigning, called Trump a 'moron'

Murdoch told Trump that he was mistaken and that the companies “had (former President Barack) Obama in their pocket” during his tenure. Still, Trump insisted that the companies “really need these H-1B visas.”

According to Wolff, “Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, 'We'll figure it out,'

“'What a (expletive) idiot,' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone."

Trump couldn’t get through a lesson on the Constitution

Trump’s associates were well aware of the president’s “wide-ranging ignorance,” Wolff wrote, and that extended into the president’s knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

“Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. ‘I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,’ Nunberg recalled, ‘before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.’”

Trump didn’t know who John Boehner was

Former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who died last year, told Trump that he needed to fill his chief of staff position with someone well-acquainted with Washington. To that end he suggested Trump choose former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who stepped down from his position in 2015.

The president had only one question, according to Wolff: “Who’s that?”

Contrary to Wolff’s reporting, Trump has tweeted several times about Boehner in the past and has been golfing with him, according to Politico.

Trump called Sally Yates the c-word

Trump vehemently disliked former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, according to Wolff. In an excerpt obtained by MSNBC, Wolff said that “Trump conceived an early, obsessive antipathy for Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

“She was, he steamed, ‘such a (expletive).’”

The president fired Yates last year when she declined to defend a travel ban that targeted people coming to the U.S. from a handful of Muslim-majority countries in the weeks after his inauguration.

Ivanka Trump set her sights on becoming America’s first female president

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, took jobs with the Trump administration against the advice of “almost everyone they knew” with their sights set on a possible future run for the White House, according to an excerpt obtained by BBC News.

The couple agreed that if an opportunity presented itself in the future, Ivanka Trump would run for president.

According to Wolff, “Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”

Bannon thought 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Russian lawyer was ‘treasonous’

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Wolff he thought a meeting set up by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others in June 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” according to The Guardian.

The younger Trump agreed to take the meeting after being promised in a series of emails between himself and music publicist Rob Goldstone for "information that would incriminate Hillary (Clinton) and her dealings with Russia."

>> Related: Donald Trump Jr. releases email exchange with Russian intermediary

Wolff wrote that shortly after the meeting, which was also attended by Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, Bannon criticized the younger Trump for his failure to bring the information to the FBI.

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers,” Wolff quoted Bannon as saying in an excerpt obtained by The Guardian. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad (expletive), and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

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House Oversight Committee launches probe into Rob Porter's employment

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 2:40 PM

Who is Rob Porter?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the White House’s employment of staff secretary Rob Porter in the wake of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said Wednesday.

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Porter submitted his resignation Feb. 2.

Gowdy told CNN that the committee launched a probe Tuesday night into Porter’s employment and when White House officials knew about the domestic violence allegations levied against him.

Porter has denied any wrongdoing.

"We are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have. You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,” Gowdy told CNN. “I'm going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer.”

Porter resigned Feb. 2 after his ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse and said they spoke with federal authorities about the claims, prompting critics to question why he had remained employed in the Trump administration. The allegations held up a background check needed to grant Porter a security clearance for work in the White House. Officials said he was working on an interim security clearance.

The process to get Porter his clearance was ongoing at the time of his resignation.

“How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?” Gowdy asked on CNN. “I am biased toward the victim.”

>> Related: White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence in January 2017, after they were contacted while Porter was applying for his security clearance, according to The Washington Post.

White House officials defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and President Donald Trump has faced criticism for what critics called his lack of care for the victims and his focus on the fact that Porter has denied the claims.

“I was surprised by (the allegations), but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career. … It was very said when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with White House Secretary Rob Porter (C) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) as they return to the White House December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they were wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

The couple was divorced in 2013.

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Veteran resident dies, receives patriotic farewell from nursing home

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

File image of the American flag.
Christopher Bruno, Freeimages
File image of the American flag.(Christopher Bruno, Freeimages)

A veterans nursing home in South Carolina honored a resident who died this week with a patriotic farewell that has gone viral.

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In a Facebook post, Laura Dorn thanked the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson for taking such good care of her father, Doug Timmons, who had Alzheimer's disease and was a resident of the facility for the last three years. Dorn wrote that her father died early Thursday morning and the staff took the time to honor him for his service as his body was removed from the facility. In a video that Dorn posted, Timmons' body, draped with an American flag, is wheeled out as staff line up and a musical tribute plays.

In a Facebook review of the nursing home, Dorn thanked the "caring, accommodating and selfless" staff who she said treated her father like family. Dorn wrote, "They treated my Dad with dignity and respect from the first moment there until he drew his last breath, then sent him off with a hero's procession."

The video has received more than 3 million views.

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Trump thanks Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 4:16 PM

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One before departing from the White House on August 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Bedminster, N.J. for his summer break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One before departing from the White House on August 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Bedminster, N.J. for his summer break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday said that he is “very thankful” that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomats, telling reporters in New Jersey that the decision will help the U.S. cut down on salaries.

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“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we will have a smaller payroll,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. … We’re going to save a lot of money.”

The comments were Trump’s first addressing Putin’s decision last month to expel 755 diplomats and technical personnel from the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia, according to The Post.

Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 included a 29 percent cut of State Department funding, NPR reported.

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email to The New York Times on Friday that the president was making a joke.

“He was being sarcastic,” she told the newspaper.

Still, some lawmakers questioned Trump’s decision to praise Putin.

“After weeks of silence regarding Vladimir Putin's outrageous expulsion of hundreds of U.S. embassy personnel, President Trump once again let Russia off the hook and instead insulted America’s diplomats,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“No doubt, the President's staff will eventually try to clean up after the parade by claiming it was a joke, but there's nothing funny about this,” he said.

According to Politico, “many, if not most, of the positions cut will likely be those of locally hired Russian staffers. The local staff who are let go will likely get severance payments, but cost savings are possible in the long run.”

Unidentified sources told the news site that most of the U.S. diplomats made to leave Russia will be moved to different posts.

Putin’s decision to kick American diplomats out of the country came in retaliation for sanctions placed on Russia by the U.S. Trump signed the bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support and required congressional approval to lift the restrictions, although he criticized it as being “seriously flawed.”

Vladimir Putin - Fast Facts

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Suppressed photo of Obama, Farrakhan might have derailed 2008 campaign

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 2:43 PM

Who is Louis Farrakhan?

More than a dozen years after the fact, a photographer has come forward with a photo that might have derailed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid.

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Askia Muhammad, who works for the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, the Final Call, has published a book in recent days that features the image: a “grip and grin” frame of a smiling Obama standing shoulder to shoulder with Louis Farrakhan.

>> Related: Who is Louis Farrakhan? 11 things to know about the Nation of Islam leader, black activist

Muhammad said the image was shot at a Congressional Black Caucus function in 2005 and says someone from the caucus called him and asked him to suppress the photo.

That could not be verified independently, but there is general agreement that, given the antipathy for Farrakhan among many Obama supporters, the photo could have spelled serious trouble for the Obama campaign.

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