Is Donald Trump going to destroy himself? Will Jared and Ivanka eventually complete their takeover of the White House and rule the world? Will Steve Bannon – the Trump whisperer and chief political disruptor from the US to Britain to Italy and everywhere in between – dominate Trump and rule the world (with Sean Hannity as his vice-president)? Will Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, ever have a satisfying romantic relationship?
As Maureen Dowd once wrote: ‘‘Like all Washington love stories, the intimacy is between two men.’’ Michael Wolff’s love affair is with Bannon and he has emptied the vacuum cleaner bag inside Bannon’s head and dumped it in front of us over more than 300 pages. Bannon is virtually the only named source in Siege and we are buried without mercy – or transparency.
The rest of the sources (there are no footnotes) are from unnamed people of unknown pedigree who told Wolff stuff that they said happened and things that Trump is said to have said, principally in the White House or throughout the Trump empire – but there is zero documentation of the material.
The shockingly good value of Fire and Fury, Wolff’s first book on Trump, is not that it had the ring of truth – that would give Wolff’s account far too much gravitas and credibility – but the patina of truth: that its outrageous accounts of terrifyingly revolting and incompetent practices at ‘‘governance’’ inside the Trump White House, if not true, read as if they might possibly perhaps maybe could be true. It satisfied our prurient political side.
But Siege flunks the smell test. There are no moments of nobility here, only raqe, insult, vulgarity, derision, paranoia and every obscene rumour of sexual (and other: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, if you must know, allegedly has a cocaine problem) deviance that Wolff can get his hands on.
The biggest ‘‘reveal’’ in Siege is that Robert Mueller – the Special Counsel who recently concluded his investigation of Russia’s attack on American democracy in 2016, and whether Trump obstructed justice during its course – drafted an indictment of Trump. According to Wolff, the indictment, ‘‘United States of America – against – Donald J. Trump, defendant’’ has three counts: obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and retaliating against a witness.
Only Wolff has this apocalyptic, Pulitzer-winning news. Somehow this has eluded MSNBC, Bob Woodward, Maggie Haberman and CNN. What do you think?
But not even the intrepid Wolff can crack what happened in that one-on-one summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, when Trump emerged so shaken, beaten and defeated. Those secrets will die with Trump’s translator.
The one thread running through Siege is that Trump will fail: ‘‘I am joined in my train-wreck fascination with Trump – that certain knowledge that in the end he will destroy himself – by, I believe, almost everyone who has encountered him since he was elected president … [and] how this will end – badly for him …’’
And: Trump will be finished by Bob Woodward’s book, by the Democrats winning the House in 2018, by the Mueller report, by the resignations of chief of staff John Kelly and defence secretary Jim Mattis.
There are not enough showers to take in between reading the stinking trash in this book. A president who eats three Musketeers bars alone in bed at night flipping the TV … a man whose women and marriage are exploitative frauds … who believes he has the power to pardon himself ... who believes Don jnr is ‘‘a pretty stupid boy’’ … who said he had sex with (former US ambassador to the UN) Nikki Haley … who bragged about having sex with a White House intern during the government shutdown … who believes that ‘‘the Jews always flip’’ against Trump when the vice of justice closes in on them.
We’ll read about The End in Wolff’s next non-fiction novel – a genre Truman Capote invented but that he would revile here. You want to get rid of an unfit president? Not like this.
Siege: Trump Under Fire