White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday blasted the Michael Wolff book that led to the president’s fallout with former adviser Steve Bannon, calling it “tabloid gossip” laced with “false and fraudulent claims.”
Sanders fielded a wave of questions regarding excerpts of Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which is set to be released Jan. 9.
“The book is mistake after mistake after mistake,” Sanders said at the White House press briefing Thursday. “I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page correcting [the book].”
Sanders added that it was “sad,” “pathetic,” and a “fantasy.”
“The fact that there was a claim the president didn’t know who John Boehner was is pretty ridiculous,” Sanders said, challenging one of many stand-out allegations in the book. She noted that there are photos of the former House speaker with Trump and tweets from the president about him, and noted that Trump “played golf” with him.
Another released excerpt claimed that neither Trump nor first lady Melania Trump thought he could win the election, which Sanders slammed as “laughable.”
“It is laughable that the president would run without the intent to win. If you know anything, you know Trump is a winner,” Sanders said. “He’s not going to do something for the purpose of not coming out as a winner. That is one of the most ridiculous claims in the book.”
Following the release of excerpts this week, personal lawyers for President Trump sent a letter to Wolff and the publisher of the book, demanding they “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book.”
Sanders was pressed over the president’s support of the First Amendment as his attorneys attempted to block the book from hitting the shelves.
“The president absolutely believes in the First Amendment, but the president also believes in making sure the information is accurate before pushing it out as fact when it certainly, and clearly, is not,” Sanders said.
Wolff explained how the book came to fruition in a story for the Hollywood Reporter Thursday, claiming he had access to top officials inside the administration, including Trump himself.
But Sanders vehemently denied Wolff’s claims of special access at the White House.
“Absolutely not. In fact, there are probably more than 30 requests for access to information for Michael Wolff that were repeatedly denied,” Sanders said. “At least two dozen requests are of him asking to have an interview with the president. He never discussed this book with the president.”
Sanders added: “To me, that would be the most important voice [Trump’s] you could have if you were looking to write about an individual.”
Sanders noted that he was repeatedly denied access to the president because “we saw him for what he was. No reason to waste the president of the United States’ time.”
Sanders said earlier this week that Wolff had visited the White House about a dozen times, with “close to 95 percent” of the visits requested by Bannon.
When asked whether Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet headed by Bannon, should part ways with him, Sanders said that was “certainly” something the organization “should look at and consider.”
Throughout the book, Bannon slams the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort and calls their infamous meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” It also claims many of the president’s top advisers disparaged him in private.
On Wednesday, following the surfacing of excerpts of Wolff’s book in New York Magazine, Trump released a four-paragraph statement downplaying Bannon’s contributions to his campaign and to the administration, claiming he had “lost his mind.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump wrote. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican Party.”
Trump’s attorney, Charles J. Harder, did not cite specific passages, but argued the book includes “false/baseless statements” that could be “defamation by libel.”
Sanders made clear that the letter pushing to stop publication was not a directive from the U.S. government, but rather from a personal attorney for the president.
Fox News’ Kristin Brown and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.