“A Very Stable Genius” — a 417-page book named after Trump’s own declaration of his superior knowledge — is full of similarly vivid details from Trump’s tumultuous first three years as president, from his chaotic transition before taking office to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation and final report.
In spring 2017, Trump also clashed with Tillerson when he told him he wanted his help getting rid of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that prevents U.S. firms and individuals from bribing foreign officials for business deals.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump says, according to the book. “We’re going to change that.”
The president, they go on to explain, was frustrated with the law “ostensibly because it restricted his industry buddies or his own company’s executives from paying off foreign governments in faraway lands.”
Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump’s communications director for just 11 days, recounts the president’s response when he asks him, “Are you an act?”
“I’m a total act and I don’t understand why people don’t get it,” Trump replies, according to Scaramucci.
Some details are more harmless than disconcerting. Early in his presidency, Trump agrees to participate in an HBO documentary that features judges and lawmakers — as well as all the living presidents — reading aloud from the Constitution. But Trump struggles and stumbles over the text, blaming others in the room for his mistakes and griping, “It’s like a foreign language.”
Trump was “verbally and emotionally abusive” toward then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the book reports, and routinely complained she was not doing enough about illegal immigration and the border.
According to the book, “He made fun of her stature and believed that at about five feet four inches she was not physically intimidating. ‘She’s so short,’ Trump would tell others about Nielsen. She and Kelly would try to make light of it. Kelly would rib her and say, ‘But you’ve got those little fists of fury!’”
The duo opens one chapter with the case of Rob Porter — the former White House staff secretary who was ultimately pushed out of his job amid allegations of domestic abuse from his two ex-wives. After a photo surfaces on the Internet of Colbie Holderness, one of his ex-wives, sporting a black eye that she alleges Porter gave her, Trump offers a competing theory.
“Maybe, Trump said, Holderness purposefully ran into a refrigerator to give herself bruises and try to get money out of Porter?” they write.
Some of the modest details in the book end up having larger consequences. After Trump bungles his India-China geography and seems to dismiss the threat China poses to India, for instance, the authors write that “Modi’s eyes bulged out in surprise.”
“Modi’s expression gradually shifted, from shock and concern to resignation,” they continue, adding that one Trump aide concludes Modi probably “left that meeting and said, ‘This is not a serious man. I cannot count on this man as a partner.’ ”
After the meeting, the aide explains to them, “ ‘the Indians took a step back’ in their diplomatic relations with the United States.”
Omg, he’s such a fraking nightmare.