Siege | Michael Wolff

Summary of: Siege: Trump Under Fire
By: Michael Wolff

Introduction

Embark on a behind-the-scenes journey through the chaos and divisiveness of the Trump White House in ‘Siege: Trump Under Fire’ by Michael Wolff. This book offers a fascinating examination of the disarray surrounding the Mueller investigation, growing paranoia in the White House, and Trump’s tumultuous relationships with key figures such as Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. Discover the political machinations and interpersonal strife that characterized Trump’s tumultuous first two years in office, and the ways his administration struggled to maintain control.

Chaos in the White House

Investigative journalist Michael Wolff uncovers a dysfunctional and paranoid White House during the Mueller investigation, where staff constantly feared incrimination. Trump’s behavior was erratic, and he attacked his staff members, including those defending him from the investigation. Additionally, Trump accused his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, of using his White House position to further his own financial interests. The situation in the White House resembled a medieval court about to descend into chaos.

Bannon’s Remote Influence

After being fired from the White House, Steve Bannon sought to remind Trump of his key election promises and maintain his political influence. Bannon communicated indirectly through the media, penning critical articles and giving interviews to radio shows. As a result of his remote influence, the president appointed some of Bannon’s political allies, but Trump’s equivocation over key pledges caused Bannon to question if he could continue to use Trump to achieve his own political objectives. Nevertheless, Bannon persisted in drip-feeding trenchant criticisms of the White House to Fox News hosts and radio shock jocks, because he knew that Trump would be listening, and quietly fuming.

The Mueller Investigation and Trump’s Anti-Elite Worldview

The Mueller report haunted Trump in the months before its verdict was delivered. He disliked the cultural divide it represented between the old establishment and himself. Robert Mueller, with his ‘by the book’ profile, exemplified everything Trump was not. Trump felt represented by the anti-elite worldview of his old friend Rudy Giuliani, who channeled his personal attacks on Trump’s opponents. Giuliani’s pure theatricality deflected media attention from the Mueller investigation, casting Trump as an anti-establishment figure hounded by elitists who didn’t respect millions of his voters.

Melania and the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement shook Trump’s White House and threatened to reveal allegations of sexual harassment and assault from 25 women. As this unfolded, Melania’s marriage to Trump came under scrutiny, and it was revealed that the couple lived separate lives. Melania had to bear all the revelations about her husband, including his liaison with Stormy Daniels. While Trump’s staff feared the worst, Melania remained composed and silent until she wore a jacket with the controversial phrase, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” to a migrant children shelter in Texas, causing confusion and speculation.

Kushner’s Diplomacy

Jared Kushner, a lifelong Democrat and odd fit for Trump’s administration, influenced Trump’s shift towards more diplomatic foreign policies. Despite opposition from Steve Bannon, Kushner’s advice led to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the shattering of the old US consensus towards North Korea. Kushner’s approach sought greater engagement with allies and rivals on the world stage through diplomatic means. This change of tack signaled a move away from the aggressive “America First” nationalism that Bannon had promoted.

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