The claim that President Donald Trump appears to be mentally unfit to lead the country, made in an upcoming book, is "disgraceful and laughable," the White House said Thursday, dismissing details from the book for the second-straight day.
The book's author, Michael Wolff, said in a column published Thursday that his more than 200 interviews with Trump staffers for the book left him with the impression that every one of them "came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job."
The column, published in The Hollywood Reporter in advance of the publication of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," concluded by saying Trump didn't recognize old friends at his Florida estate before the new year. It isn't the only recent news story to discuss Trump's mental health; Politico Magazine reported Wednesday that more than a dozen senators sought a Yale psychiatry professor's advice on his mental state last month.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked Thursday about suggestions Trump's mental health made him unfit to be president, and she called them "disgraceful and laughable," as evidenced by his victory in the Republican presidential primary, which featured "the most qualified group of candidates the Republican party has ever seen."
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The upcoming book's claims include that Trump didn't actually want to win the White House and quotes Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, saying Donald Trump Jr.'s contact with a Russian lawyer was "treasonous."
Hours after details of the book were released on Wednesday, Trump issued a verbal attack against Bannon, and Trump attorney Charles Harder sent "cease and desist" letters to Bannon as well as Wolff and his publisher, saying statements in the book were disparaging and defamatory.
Bannon was asked about the comments on his radio show Thursday morning, and said, "there is no one we think higher of than President Trump and the agenda so let’s not let the left wing media stir that up."
Wolff and his publisher haven't responded to NBC's requests for comment.
Trump is scheduled to take his first physical exam as president next week. Asked if there is a mental health component to that test, Sanders on Thursday said only that the White House would give a readout of the examination after it was done.
Asked repeatedly about Wolff's book for the second press briefing in a row, Sanders attacked it as gossip and trash written by someone with little access to the administration who had many requests for access turned down. She said "it is absolutely laughable to think that somebody like this president would run for office with the purpose of losing."
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Sanders also said that while Trump doesn't believe the book should be published, the "cease and desist" letters aimed at preventing the book from coming out shouldn't be interpreted as coming from the U.S. government.
But that didn't appear to sway the publisher, which on Thursday afternoon moved the sale date up half a week, from Tuesday, Jan. 9, to Friday.