U.S. President Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS
U.S. President Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — The author of a new book about Donald Trump’s White House said on Friday that "100% of the people around" the president question his intelligence and fitness for office.

"They all say he is like a child," Michael Wolff said on NBC. "What they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It’s all about him. This man does not read, does not listen. He’s like a pinball, just shooting off the sides. They say he’s a moron, an idiot."

On Twitter on Thursday, Trump called the book "phony" and "full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist".

"It’s absolutely outrageous to make these types of allegations" about Trump’s mental fitness, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News on Friday. They’re "desperate attempts" to attack Trump, she said. "What I think is really mentally unstable" is people not seeing the progress Trump is making.

Wolff said he stands by everything in his book and has notes and recordings to back it up.

While Trump said he never spoke to Wolff for the book, the author said he spoke to Trump both during the campaign and after the inauguration. "Whether he realized it was an interview or not," the conversations weren’t off the record, Wolff said.

‘He’s lost it’

Wolff said his sources told him Trump repeats stories over an increasingly short time period, and that he sometimes doesn’t recognise longtime friends.

NBC interviewer Savannah Guthrie asked Wolff what he was getting at. Wolff quoted former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who’s undergone a dramatic public split with the president as the book has become public: "He’s lost it."

Sanders also said Wolff never interviewed Trump about the book and has "made up a lot of stories" to try to sell books. Asked whether Bannon was the main person leaking information to Wolff, Sanders said Bannon "spent a lot more time with reporters than he ever did with the president".