US President Donald Trump on Saturday has replied his detractors by praising and describing himself as “a very mentally stable genius.”
His latest response followed the release of a bombshell book that calls into doubt his mental health.
In a series of extraordinary early-morning tweets, Trump said that “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”
“I went from VERY successful businessman to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”
The White House has been pushing back forcefully against a new supposed tell-all book — Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” — which was rushed into stores Friday after the Trump administration failed to suppress it.
The book quickly sold out in Washington and has been the talk of the town. Trump has decried the instant best-seller as “phony” and “full of lies” as the White House issued a scorched-earth dismissal of “Fire and Fury” along with its author and his sources.
Trump’s tweets came ahead of his meetings Saturday with top Republican lawmakers and Cabinet members at the Camp David presidential retreat to discuss party priorities ahead of the crucial 2018 midterm elections.
Yet the sensational details in the new book and Trump’s continued defence of his mental health have wrenched attention away from policy and news of US financial markets hitting all-time highs, bringing even more scrutiny over whether the US leader is fit for office.
On Friday, Washington’s chief diplomat Rex Tillerson was obliged to defend Trump after being asked during an interview about claims that the president has a short attention span, regularly repeats himself and refuses to read briefing notes.
“I’ve never questioned his mental fitness. I’ve had no reason to question his mental fitness,” said Tillerson, whose office was last year forced to deny reports that he had referred to Trump as a “moron” after a national security meeting.
And, even in defending Trump, the former ExxonMobil chief executive told CNN he has had to learn how to relay information to a president with a very different decision-making style.
Journalist Wolff, no stranger to controversy, quotes several key Trump aides expressing doubt about Trump’s ability to lead the world’s largest economy and military hegemon.
“Let me put a marker in the sand here. One hundred percent of the people around him” question Trump’s fitness for office, Wolff told NBC’s “Today” show.
“They all say he is like a child. And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It’s all about him.”
The book includes extensive quotes from Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, who accuses Trump’s eldest son Don Jr. of “treasonous” contacts with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, and saying the president’s daughter Ivanka, who imagines herself running for president one day, is “dumb as a brick.”
But it is Trump himself who is cast in the most unfavorable light.
The book claims that for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the president was an “idiot.” For chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, he was “dumb as shit.” And for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, he was a “dope.”
The publication came as news emerged that at least a dozen members of the US Congress were briefed last month by a Yale University professor of psychiatry on Trump’s mental health.