Fire and Fury is a book written by “journalist” Michael Wolff and is a partially fictional account of the events that occurred in the first few months of the Donald Trump administration. This is the second of a series of write-ups of notes that I have taken while reading the book.
The chapter begins with a profile of KellyAnne Conway just before the results came in. She was the face of the Trump campaign and was expecting a loss. She had plans to blame everything on Reince Priebus, who was basically the bridge between Trump’s people and the RNC. According to Wolff, she was hoping for an on-air TV job after the election and anticipated being a leading conservative voice in that area.
The expected loss was only projected to be by 6 points. A “good loss” in other words. Trump could declare the vote was rigged and then go home victorious. Steve Bannon was insisting that the numbers show a possible win, but no one seemed to care what he thought. According to Wolff, everyone thought Trump could and should lose. Not only that, they thought that it was an institutional impossibility to win. The system was simply designed to stop a man like him from getting into the White House. The campaign, in effect, was never designed to win in the first place.
Although never specifically said (and certainly denied now), there are clues that point to this assumption. Trump never put his own money into the campaign. The organization of the campaign was all wrong and too disorganized. Trump seemed to already be looking past the campaign. According to Wolff, he envisioned a boost to the brand of his name and many TV opportunities. His children may have anticipated something similar. Wolff points out that Trump’s children, at least, saw some value in not winning the election. Real estate is apparently very sketchy with lots of legal and ethical gray areas. In addition, there is potential for illegal activities like money laundering in the real estate business. Trump’s whole family is a real estate family, so they would naturally not want the spotlight shining too brightly on them. Losing gave them the celebrity they wanted, but also let them escape scrutiny.
Unfortunately, no one in the campaign seemed to realize the influence that the Mercer family would have. A hard-right libertarian family, they injected large sums of money into the campaign. They also installed Steve Bannon into the operation and generally took it over. Trump himself did not understand why, but he was happy to take their money.
One person who really did not want to win was Melania Trump. Melania and Donald don’t seem to spend much time together. According to Wolff, her marriage to Trump was something of a convenience. He gets a beautiful trophy wife and she gets to live a relatively quiet but wealthy lifestyle. If that’s true, it may explain why Melania does not seem particularly interested where her husband is or where he goes. In light of the recently published Stormy Daniels scandal, it may be she knows exactly where he goes and lets him do it so she can access his wealth. According to Wolff, Trump is an absent parent who constantly craves female approval. He and Melania have been together for years, so it wouldn’t be surprising that she knows of his (alleged) philandering.
When the election results came in, Melania was horrified. Donald had kept telling her there was no way he would win, although she was observed telling him he could every once in a while. This may have been just basic ego-flattery that Trump needs every now and again. Nevertheless, her idea of living a quietly sheltered life with her son was basically shattered.
There were other problems that Trump’s team had to contend with now. The campaign had never done opposition research on Trump himself. His ego wouldn’t allow it, there might actually be something uncovered that could get him in trouble and no one thought he would win anyway. Everyone anticipated various careers being set after a loss, but now the impossible actually became reality and no one was quite sure what to do.
If this is true, and had it worked, Trump’s gambit would go into the history books as the greatest con ever. I don’t think anyone would not be impressed by the guts it takes to pull something like this off. Furthermore he would indeed have been a massive name on television. His children would have been celebrities and many on his team would have their careers forever launched into the stars. Too bad the gambit didn’t work. Now everyone involved will be remembered as the enablers of the worst period in American history.