WASHINGTON — Stephen Miller, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, went on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday to defend his boss in the face of the revelations in the scathing book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
While Miller started off by calling the book a “pile of trash” and a “true work of fiction,” host Jake Tapper tried to question Miller on his and the White House’s effort to minimize the role of Steve Bannon, who was CEO of the Trump campaign in its final months and chief strategist in the first seven months of the administration.
At one point, Tapper said that Miller was being “obsequious,” attempting to please his boss, President Donald Trump, and ignore questions he had asked.
Miller called Tapper “condescending,” and said that it was part of Tapper’s “m.o.” Instead, Miller sought to repeat an anecdote about Trump’s ability to dictate campaign speeches on the fly.
He sought to discredit CNN and tried to run through a list of errors that the network had made in its reporting. He got so worked up over the media coverage of Trump that at one point Tapper said to him, “Settle down. Calm down.”
Bannon was one of author Michael Wolff’s sources, and was highly critical of other members of Trump’s team and his family members. In the book, Bannon said that a meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had with a group of Russians in June, 2016, was “treasonous.”
After news about the book leaked last week, Trump slammed Bannon as having “lost his mind,” and has taken to calling him “sloppy Steve.” He said that Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” and Miller also tried to diminish Bannon’s influence. When Tapper pointed out that Bannon helped him get a job on Trump’s campaign in January, 2016, Miller said that it was Corey Lewandowski, then the campaign manager, who had a greater hand in his hiring.
Miller said it was “tragic and unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive.”
As Miller tried to talked further about the “real experience of Donald Trump,” Tapper said that Miller “was being a factotum in order to please him.”
Tapper finally cut Miller off, saying “I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you.”
Trump was watching. He tweeted, “Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!” Tapper then tweeted a link to the interview and wrote, “judge for yourself.”
Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
A CNN source said that after the interview, “The segment was over and Mr. Miller was politely asked to leave the set multiple times. After refusing to leave, he was escorted out by security.”
Wolff, meanwhile, appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday to explain how he got access to the White House.
“I literally kind of knocked on the door and said, ‘Can I come in, and they said, ‘OK’?” Wolff said.
He said that he told Trump that he wanted to write a book, and seemed to give it his approval.
Wolff said that he went to other sources and said, “The president likes this idea, and everyone would say, ‘OK, great.'”
In the early months of the Trump administration, Wolff was critical of the media coverage of the administration. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked him whether he was saying those things to win favor of the White House.
“In the beginning, the media took this point of view without having this experience,” Wolff said. “I went into this, a decent part of the country went into this, his entire staff went into this thing, maybe this could work…That was my frame of reference.”
But Wolff said that he came to find that in fact, “he is actually worse than everybody thought.”
He defended the accuracy of the book, saying that it “speaks for itself.” Some journalists have pointed out fact checking errors. Mark Berman, a national reporter at The Washington Post, said noted that one passage identified as one of the figures having breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. In fact, he has never been there.
Wolff acknowledged that he mixed Berman up with another figure, Mike Berman. He also denied that he published comments that came from conversations that were supposed to be off the record.
He also challenged Trump’s contention that he “never spoke to him for the book.” But Wolff said that he spoke to Trump in February, 2017, and in several other moments after that. In total, he said that he spoke to Trump about three hours through the campaign up until he finished the book.
The book has sold out at a number of bookstores since its release on Friday, and Wolff said that the response has been something like a “cultural moment.”
“It’s given everyone this focused opportunity to say, ‘Holy crap!”