MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to begin the program today with more on the book by writer Michael Wolff, "Fire And Fury." It's his account of goings on inside the Trump White House. It was released on Friday, and it has already touched off a furious response from the White House because it paints a portrait of a chaotic Trump campaign and an undisciplined, immature and intemperate president. It suggests that even some of the president's top aides question his fitness for the office.
Today, former chief strategist Steve Bannon responded for the first time. He said he regrets not responding sooner. And he said quotes from him suggesting President Trump's son, Don Jr.'s, meeting with the Russians in 2016 was treasonous were actually directed at another campaign manager, Paul Manafort. He also reiterated his support for President Trump's agenda, but he did not deny being a source for the book, nor did he disavow other critical comments.
Meanwhile, author Michael Wolff and defenders of Donald Trump continue to debate the book's veracity on the Sunday morning talk shows and in op-eds. David Bossie is one of those defenders. He served as the deputy campaign manager to the Trump campaign and is currently president of the conservative political group Citizens United. On Friday, Bossie penned an op-ed in The Washington Post, calling "Fire And Fury," quote, a "fake book that reads like the National Enquirer on steroids," unquote.
I spoke with David Bossie earlier today, and I started our conversation by asking him to walk me through his criticisms of the book.
DAVID BOSSIE: Well, I have several of him and his book, one of which is the book is boring. I read it, and I could hardly stay awake. It is a - other than the salaciousness of it, which is the provocative comments by some of the staffers, there's no real information in it other than what he claims. And he says in the opening of his book that this is a truth that he believes to be true, not what is true.
MARTIN: The book's author, Michael Wolff, spoke with my colleague Kelly McEvers on Friday. And she asked him about allegations from the White House and several people quoted in the book that their quotations were mischaracterized or fabricated, and this is what he said.
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MICHAEL WOLFF: When you write a book like this - and I wrote this over a long period time and spoke to people over a long period of time - people regret what they said to me, what they say to any reporter who they relax with and they forget who they're talking to. And I have sympathy for that. And I think the natural response is to say, oh, my God, I didn't say it. But I will tell you, they said it.
MARTIN: So, Mr. Bossie, here's the elephant in the room here.
MARTIN: This president and the people who defend him have a history of making exaggerated or false statements. You know, he had the largest inauguration audience ever - that's not true. That Muslims celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11 - that's not true. That Hillary Clinton started the birther movement - that's not true. So the question is, who has the moral authority here when you have a candidate and people who defend him who have a history of making exaggerated or false statements?
BOSSIE: Yeah, look. I can - I'm going to speak to this book. Michael Wolff is a fabricator extraordinaire. He's lying in this book. And I'm a guy who would rather ignore the book. That's how my style is - to ignore the book and hope it goes away. But that's not the outcome. And Michael Wolff did this exactly on cue to sell books. He took the most salacious, outrageous lies. Whether people in the White House or outside the White House or in the campaign or transition spoke to him or not, I don't know. But I could tell you, I wrote a book on the campaign and on the transition in the beginning of the White House called "Let Trump Be Trump." Our book has been out for one month. No one has questioned the veracity of the book.
MARTIN: So today, Mr. Bannon issued a statement expressing regret about some of the statements that - in the book. Now you said in your op-ed that you were very disappointed with him. You said it more strongly than I am. Does that statement by Mr. Bannon do anything to assuage your anxiety?
BOSSIE: Yes, what I said was Steve needed to clear the air. He needed to make a statement because, you know, I think he was overrun. And so when you're being overrun like that, I know there's a tendency to not say anything and hope it blows over. But in this case, he had to say something. I'm very pleased with his statement, and I think he needs to continue that by showing that he is a supporter of this president and a supporter of the agenda, which no one questioned.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, Mr. Bossie, you just made the point that, you know, your preference as a seasoned campaign person would have been to ignore this and let it go away and be about your business. There are those who say that the president's furious response - calling names, et cetera - proves the author's point.
BOSSIE: Well, no, I would disagree. I think that what the president - first of all, this president, unlike a lot of career politicians in the world, you know, they're not as tough as this president. And when you attack his family, which is what this author has done, this president's not going to take that lying down. And this guy is the best counterpuncher in the business. And this deceitful author is somebody who put forward this diatribe, and this president has called him out on it. Now, I personally would have loved to have seen the president say one thing and move on, but that's his call. He's the president. He gets to make it.
MARTIN: That's David Bossie. He's president of Citizens United. He was deputy campaign manager of the Trump presidential campaign. He wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post that we've been talking about, and he was nice enough to let us call him on his Sunday. David Bossie, thanks so much for speaking with us today.
BOSSIE: Thanks so much for having me.
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