White House unloads on new book about Trump administration

The White House is not pulling punches on a new book about the early days of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse expected to vote on omnibus Thursday afternoon House passes 'right to try' drug bill Spending bill rejects Trump’s proposed EPA cut MORE's administration.

At a White House press briefing Thursday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders railed against Michael Wolff's explosive new book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," calling it "sad," "pathetic" and full of mistakes.

"There are numerous mistakes but I'm not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page talking about a book that’s complete fantasy and full of tabloid gossip," Sanders said. 

"It's sad, pathetic, and our administration's focus will be on moving the country forward.” 
When asked for an example of a falsehood in the upcoming book, Sanders pointed to the accusation that Trump did not know who former House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner4 reasons Mike Pompeo will succeed at Foggy Bottom The misunderstood reason Congress can’t get its job done GOP sees McCarthy moving up — if GOP loses the House MORE (R-Ohio) was when he was floated as a potential chief of staff. 
"[That] is pretty ridiculous considering the majority of you have seen photos, and frankly some of you have even tweeted out, that the president not only knows him but has played golf with him, tweeted about him."
Quotes and anecdotes attributed to top campaign aides in the book have roiled Washington this week and prompted swift backlash from the White House.
Excerpts were first published Wednesday and paint the early days of Trump's administration as chaotic. Statements depict Trump as not expecting to win the presidency, clashing often with aides and even picking fights with White House housekeeping staff.
But the book's introduction contains a startling disclaimer, in which Wolff acknowledges that many statements are conflicting and even untrue. Wolff notes that certain accounts reflect "a version of events I believe to be true."
Trump has responded in full force, threatening to sue the book's publisher if it hits shelves, and seeking to distance himself from sources in the book, including former chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
In one part of the book, Bannon describes a July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” 

He also said he believed there was “zero” chance that the president was not aware of the meeting, which contradicts previous White House statements.

“They’re going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV,” Bannon reportedly said. 

Trump's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon on Wednesday just hours after the excerpt was published. Trump attorney Charles Harder, claims that Bannon breached a non-disclosure agreement signed as part of working on Trump’s campaign by interviewing with Wolff.
"On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent," Harder said.
Trump also hit at Bannon himself after the excerpts were published, saying Bannon "has lost his mind," and had “no influence” within the West Wing.
"Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books," Trump said. 
"Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was," the president added.  
On Thursday Trump told reporters he doesn't even talk to Bannon anymore.
Sanders has similarly sought to distance Trump from Bannon, who rose to one of the top spots in both Trump's campaign and his White House before being fired in August of 2017.
"I’m not aware that they were ever particularly close," Sanders said Thursday of Trump and Bannon.
"I don't think [Americans] really care about some trash that an author that no-one had ever heard of until today, or a fired employee, wants to peddle," she later added.
Sanders also suggested Breitbart News look at firing Bannon, who is the chairman of the conservative site. 

“I certainly think that it's something they should look at and consider,” Sanders said at the press briefing when asked if Breitbart should consider cutting ties with Bannon.

Despite blowback from the White House and a cease-and-desist letter from Trump's lawyers, publishers are seeing increased interest in the book. 

Trump's attorneys reportedly sent a letter demanding that Henry Holt & Company not publish the book and apologize to the president.
Instead, a spokesperson for the group announced Thursday afternoon that it would release the book even earlier than expected.
"Due to unprecedented demand, we are moving the on-sale date for all formats of 'Fire and Fury,' by Michael Wolff, to Friday, January 5, at 9 a.m. ET, from the current on-sale date of Tuesday, January 9," a spokesperson for Henry Holt told CNN.
Updated at 4:18 p.m.