From a portion of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” titled “Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President” and excerpted in the current issue of New York. The following comes from former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh:
“As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated.
“Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate. He trusted his own expertise — no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do.
“It was, said Walsh, ‘like trying to figure out what a child wants.'”
“Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world’s most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 — a little more than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration — and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.
“At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.”
After discussions of confirmation hearings, Secretary of Defense nominee James “Mad Dog” Mattis and the appointment of Michael Flynn as national security adviser, Bannon raised the notion of John Bolton, whom Ailes liked, for national-security adviser.
“’He’s a bomb thrower,’ said Ailes. ‘And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.’
“’Bolton’s mustache is a problem,’ snorted Bannon. ‘Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.’
“’Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.’
“’If I told Trump that,’ Bannon said slyly, ‘he might have the job.’
“Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message — the world needs borders — and Trump had become the platform for that message.
“’Does he get it?’ asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?
“Bannon took a sip of water. ‘He gets it,’ he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. ‘Or he gets what he gets.'”