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Trump's Week Of 'Fire And Fury'


"Fire And Fury" is the title of the new White House tell-all that appeared this week. It also describes how President Trump reacted to the release of the book which details sharp criticism of him from his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. It also features stories that question the president's mental fitness. We're joined now from St. Louis by Ed Martin. He's a conservative commentator and former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

Mr. Martin, thanks so much for being with us.

ED MARTIN: Great to be with you, Scott. Thank you.

SIMON: And you have another book out, "Can't Trump This 2017" selling slightly less, I gather...

MARTIN: (Laughter) Yes.

SIMON: ...At least for the moment. But you're on our show now. We'll see what happens.

MARTIN: Right.

SIMON: Steve Bannon wrote the foreword. So I have to ask you an old question from organized labor - which side are you on?

MARTIN: Well, I'm on both sides, I'm on all the sides - I don't know. I'm a little bit confused by it, to be honest. I will tell you - when I asked Steve to write the foreword to the book, I was spending much of December. And as you mentioned, the title is "Can't Trump This 2017." It's really a compilation of what I saw as the top Trump wins, the successes of the year. Steve really was pleased to do it. He wrote a nice foreword. He was, you know, I'd say excited about all the Trump successes. Obviously, I support many, many of the policies of the president.

So a lot of this fight right now is a surprise to me because I didn't see it coming. And I don't quite know - I have such respect for the president especially fighting back when somebody seems to say something about his kids. I have a bunch of kids, and I thought that was something. But I don't know - I'm trying not to be on a side - it's like Mom and Dad had a little bit of a disagreement. I prefer to think that it's going to settle down and they're all in the family here, you know.

SIMON: But disagreement - Steve Bannon is quoted as saying - and to my knowledge this statement has not been challenged - saying the president has lost it. Now, are you supporting a president who is incapable of being entrusted with, you know, the awesome responsibilities, including his finger on what we're told this week is not actually a nuclear button but obviously has the power to send nuclear weapons.

MARTIN: Well - one thing I haven't heard yet is Steve Bannon interviewed or, as you say, you know, walk that back or take it back. Your point is taken. But I think everything I see about the president makes me think that that kind of characterization - you know, the one thing about the author, he's - I haven't read the book. I think that most people haven't seen the full book. But one thing I have seen, the quote in the prologue.

You know, in St. Louis we had a columnist here named Jerry Berger who was sort of similar to Mike Wolff. He was a pretty charming guy and wheedled his way into conversations as well as events and then would write about it. And you'd shake your head sometimes and think, I was there. Jerry Berger seemed to write something different. Well, Mike Wolff actually admits in the prologue he thinks he's got what he knows as true as best as he can but he can't confirm it all. So look, I think the president of the United States has shown he's very, very capable, very, very talented. I think the rest of it I leave to a sort of tabloid discussion.

SIMON: Should he be taunting a dictator with nuclear weapons about the size of his nuclear button?

MARTIN: (Laughter) Well, I - you know, I look at that. And I - the president has a record on Twitter. My next book, by the way, will be about his tweets, and it's coming in May. But I look at, and I think that he is - it's a sort of a form that he's used. I don't think anybody thinks that he tweets with his final pronouncements. I think he makes points.

I'm reminded, by the way, of one tweet that he had about the Chinese from Mar-a-Lago last spring where he said, I'm going to let them take the first crack at getting North Korea in line. And they didn't. So I don't think that's all of Trump. It's sort of his Twitter way. But I'm comfortable again that he's a smart guy and he's in his right mind and he's doing a great job from where I sit for the country.

SIMON: Quickly, he says he's a genius. Do you agree?

MARTIN: I - a hundred percent. Nobody - Hillary Clinton was a genius. Donald Trump was a genius. These people at that level are the all-star big league ballplayers of American politics.

SIMON: Ed Martin, thanks very much for being with us.

MARTIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.