Washington: US President Donald Trump on Sunday assailed as a “Fake Book" an explosive behind-the-scenes account that questions his fitness for office, as allies lined up to defend the president, with one dubbing him a “political genius".
The White House has been pushing back hard against the unflattering portrayal of the president in Fire and Fury, a supposed tell-all book published on Friday about the Trump administration by journalist Michael Wolff.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that the instant bestseller—which paints him as disengaged and unstable, with signs of serious memory loss—was a “Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author".
A day earlier, pushing back at Wolff’s suggestion that he lacked stability, Trump called himself a “very stable genius".
Senior Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller treated the book derisively while insisting that his boss was in fact “a political genius", in an interview on CNN on Sunday.
The book’s author, Miller said, “is a garbage author of a garbage book... nothing but a pile of trash."
He assailed his former White House colleague Steve Bannon, reportedly a key source for the book, as “vindictive" and “out of touch with reality".
Meantime, CIA director Mike Pompeo, appearing on Fox News on Sunday, insisted that Wolff’s portrayal of Trump was “just pure fantasy".
Far from being detached and unable to deal with complex policy issues, Pompeo said, “The president is engaged, he understands the complexity, he asks really difficult questions of our team at the CIA." He described Trump as an “avid consumer" of the agency’s intelligence.
Pompeo added that Trump was “completely fit", saying it was “ludicrous" to suggest otherwise.
But in a possible sign of White House sensitivities over the book, Miller lashed out in an unusually raw clash with his CNN interviewer, Jake Tapper.
When Tapper attempted to question Miller about his work with Bannon, the interview deteriorated into a rapid-fire series of mutual interruptions and recriminations.
Miller called Tapper “condescending" and “snide", and accused CNN of engaging in “negative anti-Trump hysterical coverage" and “spectacularly embarrassing false reporting".
The two men repeatedly spoke over each other before Tapper declared, “I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you Stephen", then turned away from Miller—who was still talking—to tersely announce the next guest.
Miller was not treated kindly in the Wolff book. The author wrote that Miller “was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread. He was supposed to be a communications specialist, but he antagonized almost everyone".
Miller’s combative performance on CNN got a thumbs up from his boss.
“Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!" Trump tweeted after the segment aired.