Michael Wolff attacked CNN’s Brain Stelter on air, calling him ‘full of sanctimony’

Michael Wolff speaking to CNN's Brian Stelter on Sunday July 18, 2021.
Michael Wolff called CNN’s Brian Stelter “one of the reasons people hate the media.”

  • Michael Wolff flipped out at CNN’s Brain Stelter on air, calling him ‘full of sanctimony.’
  • The pair were discussing Wolff’s latest book on Donald Trump’s presidency.
  • Wolff told Stelter: “You are one of the reasons people can’t stand the media.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Donald Trump’s biographer Michael Wolff criticized CNN host Brian Stelter on his own show, calling him “full of sanctimony” and saying that he was “one of the reasons people can’t stand the media” in a combative interview on Sunday.

Wolff was appearing on Stelter’s show “Reliable Sources” to discuss his latest book on Donald Trump’s presidency, “Landslide.”

Stelter suggested Wolff had previously sought to secure access to Trump by criticizing Stelter and CNN during an appearance on “Reliable Sources” in 2017.

Wolff admitted that Trump – a frequent critic of CNN – had called him the day after the interview to congratulate him for bashing the network.

But he denied that the criticism had been deliberately intended to curry favor with Trump.

“I don’t want you to think that what I said at that point was in any way inauthentic. I think the media has done a terrible job on this,” Wolff told Stelter.

“I think you yourself, while you’re a nice guy, you’re full of sanctimony. You become one of the parts of the problem of the media.

“You come on here and you have a monopoly on truth, you know exactly how things are supposed to be done.

He added: “You are one of the reasons people can’t stand the media. Sorry, it’s your fault.”

Asked by Stelter what he should do differently, Wolff replied: “Don’t talk so much. Listen more.”

The pair also clashed earlier in the interview over a claim in Wolff’s book that Rupert Murdoch personally permitted Fox News to call Arizona for President Joe Biden in last year’s presidential election.

Wolff wrote that Rupert Murdoch received a call from his son Lachlan, the CEO of Fox Corporation, saying that Fox News’ Decision Desk was ready to call the state for Biden.

He said that Rupert Murdoch had “every reason” to delay calling the state given the network’s allegiance to Trump.

But Wolff wrote that Murdoch, “with [a] signature grunt, assented, adding, ‘F— him.””

He told Stelter that he was well-sourced at Fox News because he has written a book about the network and the Murdochs in the past.

“I am Rupert Murdoch’s biographer,” he said.

“One of many,” Stelter said.

“No, not one of many. That’s totally ridiculous,” Wolff replied, adding that he had been given “enormous access” to Murdoch for the book.

Fox News denied Wolff’s reporting in a statement to Insider. Some of his claims in previous books about Trump have been disputed by multiple journalists.

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Trump blamed getting COVID on Chris Christie and ‘tried to duck’ from his ‘spittle’ during debate prep, book says

Chris Christie Donald Trump.
Chris Christie, left, and Donald Trump.

  • Trump was “convinced” that Chris Christie gave him COVID-19, according to a new book.
  • Trump had “seen the spittle” come out of Christie’s mouth and “tried to duck from the droplets.”
  • It’s unclear how Trump contracted the disease.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump believed that he contracted COVID-19 last October from ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, according to a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff.

Shortly before Trump announced he tested positive coronavirus on October 2, he worked with Christie to prepare for the September 29 presidential debate against Joe Biden.

Trump, a self-described germaphobe, had “seen the spittle” come out of Christie’s mouth and “tried to duck from the droplets” as they sat across from each other at practice debate sessions, Wolff wrote in his book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency.”

Trump later blamed his exposure to COVID-19 on Christie, who tested positive around the same time as him and battled the virus for a week in the ICU.

It’s unclear exactly how the virus spread to Trump. But he was furious with Christie following a final debate session in which Christie had assumed the role of Biden and attacked Trump, according to the book.

“You have blood on your hands,” Christie reportedly told Trump. “You’re a complete failure. All these people have died from the virus. And it’s your fault.”

Christie, still playing Biden, also pointed out that Trump had criticized Biden’s son, Hunter, while his own family was “full of problems,” the book said.

Trump became “clearly agitated” at the practice strategy and had his “arms tightly crossed,” Wolff wrote. He said that Christie attacked him “like he meant it,” per the book.

Whether or not Christie gave coronavirus to Trump, the former president was “convinced” that he did, Wolff wrote.

The pair’s relationship eventually fell apart. After their bouts with COVID-19, Christie went on to criticize Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the country.

Christie told the New York Times last October that he was “wrong” to have trusted the White House grounds was a “safe zone” and that he should have worn a mask.

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New book reveals Trump’s ‘grim’ reaction when Fox News called Arizona for Biden: ‘What the f—?’

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Trump flew into a rage after Fox News called Arizona for Biden on Election Night 2020, a new book says.
  • “What the f—? How can they call this?” Trump said, according to the book.
  • He directed his fury at the Murdochs and seethed that they were “always” out to get him.
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Then President Donald Trump flew into a rage when Fox News called the state of Arizona for Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Election Night 2020, according to “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency” by Michael Wolff.

It was a shocking call that marked the beginning of the end of Trump’s reelection campaign, and the president’s aides quickly shifted to damage control mode in order to contain his fury.

“What the f—? How can they call this?” Trump said, according to the book, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider. “We’re winning. And everybody can see we are going to win. Everybody’s calling to say that we’re winning. And then they pull this?”

Matt Oczkowski, the Trump campaign’s data guru and the former head of product at the controversial firm Cambridge Analytica, tried consoling Trump and assuring him that according to his model, the president would end up carrying Arizona.

“When the votes come in, we’ll win,” Oczkowski said. “Absolutely, we’re going to win.”

Meanwhile Trump’s son, Eric, was searching for his own answers, asking campaign staffers, “Where are these votes in Arizona coming from? How is this happening? You said we were good,” the book said.

But the brunt of Trump’s rage was directed toward Fox News itself. The head of the company, Rupert Murdoch, had greenlit the network’s election desk to call Arizona for Biden just minutes earlier.

Shortly after 11 p.m. ET, Murdoch’s son Lachlan got a call from Fox News’ data operation saying they were ready to make the Arizona call. Lachlan relayed the information to his father and asked if the network should go ahead and announce it.

“His father, with signature grunt, assented, adding, ‘F— him,'” Wolff wrote.

Trump, reacting to Biden’s victory a little while later, fumed that the Murdochs were “always trying to f— him,” according to the book. “He was the golden goose at Fox, and what did that get him? They owed him, but they had screwed him.”

In the weeks and months after Biden’s victory, Trump and his loyalists mounted a ferocious – and entirely unfounded – public messaging campaign aimed at convincing his supporters that the election had been “rigged” and stolen from him.

His legal team, spearheaded by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, filed lawsuits in battleground states across the country seeking to nullify Biden’s victory in those states and throw the White House back to Trump.

All the lawsuits were tossed out, and nonpartisan election experts and cybersecurity officials determined that contrary to Trump and Giuliani’s claims, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.

Giuliani, for his part, recently had his law license suspended in New York and Washington, DC, after an appellate division of New York’s Supreme Court found “uncontroverted evidence” that he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” about the election.

Wolff’s previous reporting about the Trump White House drew scrutiny after journalists and fact-checkers found that some of the details in his first book about the administration didn’t add up.

He defended the book, however, and said he stood by his reporting. He also said “Landslide” featured only episodes that Trump’s staff had confirmed or that were backed up by multiple sources.

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Trump’s Oval Office was nicknamed ‘the Star Wars bar’ because so many bizarre characters would hang out there, Wolff says

donald trump oval office
President Donald Trump talks to reporters in the Oval Office on January 9, 2019.

White House staffers got so used to seeing a vast retinue of unlikely figures in President Donald Trump’s Oval Office that they nicknamed it the ‘Star Wars bar,’ according to Michael Wolff, author of a new exposé on the Trump administration.

In an interview with The Times of London published Wednesday, Wolff discussed his new book, “Landslide,” which the newspaper has been publishing excerpts of.

In the interview, Wolff claims that he travelled to meet Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort despite the unflattering portrayal of the former president in his two previous books on his time as president.

There, he observed that Trump conducted business in the front lobby, surrounded by supporters and favor-seekers.

“The man can’t be alone,” Wolff told the publication. “The Oval Office in the Trump years was at any time filled with enormous numbers of people.”

Staffers, said Wolff, nicknamed it “the Star Wars bar” because of the odd characters hanging out there.

The nickname is an allusion to the Mos Eisley Cantina in the first “Star Wars” film, where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first meet Han Solo.

Here is a clip, showing a variety of aliens with strangely-shaped heads, huge eyes, snouts, and fur:

The official Star Wars website describes it as “a dimly-lit tavern known for its strong drinks, hot tunes, and occasional outbreaks of shocking violence.”

Trump during his presidency took a much laxer approach than other presidents to who was allowed in his orbit.

His second chief of staff, John Kelly, at one point tried to restrict the flow of people able to access the president, but with limited success.

During the final few months of his presidency, Sidney Powell, an attorney associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, pillow executive and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani were frequent White House visitors as they pursued Trump’s bid to overturn the election result.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, has denied Wolff’s claims in the book, tweeting on Tuesday: “All these stories from the Michael Wolff book are not true. Wolff never asked President Trump about them, if he had, he would have refuted them. Fake News!”

Wolff responded, saying that he only included verified accounts in his book, either confirmed by Trump’s aides or by multiple other sources.

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Trump aides laughed off a rumor that he would run for the House in 2022 because it’s a ‘real job’ that requires actual work, book says

Donald Trump
Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021.

  • Donald Trump’s aides laughed off the idea that he’s running for House Speaker in 2022, a new book says.
  • They considered it a “real job” that requires “actual work,” according to Michael Wolff.
  • Trump himself said in June it was unlikely he’d run for office in the 2022 midterms.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Aides working for former President Donald Trump laughed off rumors that he would run for a House of Representatives seat in 2022 and lead the impeachment of President Joe Biden, according to a new book, saying it was a “real job” that required “actual work.”

The suggestion that Trump wins a seat in the House first drew widespread attention in June. During an interview with Trump, conspiracy theorist and far-right radio host Wayne Allyn Root suggested that he run for office in the 2022 midterm elections in Florida. From there, Root suggested, Trump could lead a Republican takeover of Congress, impeach Biden, initiate criminal investigations into him, and then run for president again in 2024.

“You become the Speaker of the House, lead the impeachment of Biden and start criminal investigations against Biden,” Root said. “You’ll wipe him out for this last two years.”

Trump called the idea “so interesting.”

But Trump’s aides dismissed the idea, according to Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” which was excerpted in the Times of London Monday.

“For Trump aides, though, this was risible. Speaker of the House is a ‘real job,’ and Trump, in no way, is going to actually work,” Wolff wrote.

Presidential schedules obtained by Axios showed that Trump spent much of his days in “executive time,” a sort of unstructured time where he’d watch cable news, make phone calls, and take meetings.

Days after his interview with Root, Trump dismissed the suggestion that he run for a House seat, telling Fox Business host Stuart Varney that it’s “highly unlikely.”

The Constitution does not require that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be an elected member. Trump, who continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, has expressed interest in running for president again in 2024.

Wolff’s book reports other revelations about Trump’s presidency, including that he asked random Mar-a-Lago visitors for lawyer recommendations and that his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner lobbied against Trump trying to pardon himself before the end of his presidency.

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Kushner lobbied against Trump using his presidential power to pardon himself before leaving office, new book says

Jared Kushner and Trump
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 11: Advisor Jared Kushner (R) looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office to announce that Bahrain will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, at the White House in Washington, DC on September 11, 2020. The announcement follows one last month by Israel and the United Arab Emirates that they would seek to normalize relations with each other.

  • Former President Donald Trump talked of pardoning himself while in the White House.
  • His son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner “dissuaded” him, a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff says.
  • If Trump did, states might be motivated to go after him more, Kushner argued, according to the book.
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Former President Donald Trump talked of pardoning himself while in the White House but his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner “dissuaded” him, a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff says.

“They say I can. Unlimited pardon power,” Trump said, according to an excerpt of the book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency” published by The Times of London.

Kushner argued, however, that Trump giving himself a federal pardon – a president’s only pardon power – might motivate states to go after him even more, Wolff writes.

“Still, with such a lot of people out there who wanted to hurt him, he should pardon the whole family, shouldn’t he – even Barron?” Wolf wrote, referring to Trump’s teenage son. “Kushner elided. (Other family members would note that Kushner did, though, grab a pardon for his own father.)”

The excerpt notes that Trump faces serious legal issues and could be indicted, including for financial issues and others. Last week, the Manhattan district attorney’s office charged the Trump organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg with financial crimes in an ongoing investigation.

During the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Trump tweeted that he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself “but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” The New York Times also reported that he talked about it in the days before leaving office.

The excerpt says Trump was “excited” by pardon power at the beginning of his term but later became “bored by the process and the details” and began asking people for their “top pick” for pardoning.

Trump also took a “sudden interest” in Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend who is awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in the Epstein scandal, the excerpt says.

“Has she said anything about me?” Trump asked about Maxwell, according to Wolff’s book. “Is she going to talk? Will she roll on anybody?”

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Trump is asking random Mar-a-Lago visitors to recommend lawyers to help with his legal issues, Wolff book says

trump mar-a-lago
Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016.

  • Trump has no “real” lawyers working with him, a new book about him says.
  • The former president asks Mar-a-Lago visitors if they have any recommendations, the book says.
  • Trump has several legal threats hanging over him.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump is asking passers-by for legal help as he finds himself in increasing jeopardy, according to a new book.

An excerpt of “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency” by Michael Wolff published by The Times of London Monday describes Trump’s life surrounded by followers at his Florida home of Mar-A-Lago.

In it, Wolff says that as of spring 2021 Trump had no “real” lawyers working with him, “going so far as to ask random visitors if they know any good ones” to help with the many legal threats looming over him.

Insider’s C. Ryan Barber and Tom LoBianco reported in April that, with the big law firms shying away, Trump calls on a stable of lawyers, many of whom were involved in his efforts to challenge the 2020 election result.

Some of the legal threats over Trump have begun to take shape.

On July 1, the Manhattan District Attorney unsealed an indictment against the Trump Organization, alleging 15 felonies including scheming to defraud, conspiracy, grand larceny, tax fraud, and falsifying business records, as Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported.

Trump has not been charged, but the presents a clear problem for him, Sheth reported. Trump and his supporters have dismissed the prosecution as a “witch-hunt,” as Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported. But it’s far from the only legal concern he faces, as Wolff noted.

His call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger in January, begging him to “find” more votes for him so he could win the state could be illegal, Politico reported.

And since the January 6 riot at the Capitol, Trump has been warned that he could face legal consequences for inciting his followers. More than 400 people accused of joining the riot face criminal charges, some of whom have sought to blame Trump in their defenses.

Despite the various threats, Trump has cut off former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Wolff wrote – one of his most loyal legal advisers.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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