16:03 GMT30 May 2020
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    Michael Wolff's much-hyped account of White House politics under Donald Trump continues to fly off store shelves, prompting anger from the president, who has described the book as 'fiction' and called its author a 'fraud'. Speaking to Sputnik, political scientist Glen Duerr offered some predictions regarding the book's long-term consequences.

    An associate professor of international studies at Cedarville University in Ohio, Dr. Duerr, the international relations expert who also specializes in European and US politics, spoke to Radio Sputnik about his takeaways from Fire and Fury.

    Sputnik: What is your take on the book's credibility? What is Mr. Wolff trying to achieve by writing a book like this?

    Glen Duerr: It's difficult to know, because clearly this is an author that had access to the White House, and a wide variety of sources. He claims to have dozens of hours of tape recorded interviews. So there's certainly some credence on that level. 

    But it seems like certainly from a lot of excerpts and sections that I've read that there's a lot of speculation, a lot of positions of particular people that may have an axe to grind against the Trump administration. So it's going to take some time to look through the sources, wade through the taped interviews to figure out what's true, what's false, and what's simply spin in this book.

    Sputnik: Mr. Wolff has said that his book has this sort of 'emperor has no clothes' narrative to it, and that there's a good chance that it will end the Trump presidency. Do you think that's a viable perspective?

    Glen Duerr: No, I think that ultimately the 2018 midterm elections will be difficult for Republicans. I think there will be a backlash. We're seeing that in polling. Of course it's January, not November, when the elections take place.

    But in terms of Trump's viability for reelection, he has a good shot. When you take away the emotions, in American politics the incumbent has a very good chance of reelection, and much depends really on the nominee of the Democratic Party in 2020. In terms of impeachment or anything like that I don't see that yet. That's a very political-type game and will depend as well on the 2018 midterm elections.

    Sputnik: What can you say about the conflicts between Trump and Steve Bannon, who reportedly made some very unflattering remarks about Trump's family in the book, and about whom the president has made some equally unflattering comments? What can you say about their relationship?

    Glen Duerr: It's a very interesting and in some ways strange relationship, because on the one hand, Steve Bannon was something of an architect for President Trump's election. Really, when you look at his political rise or look at the polling, he was behind for a long time, and made a pretty late surge in order to win. And some of that is credited to Steve Bannon. 

    Also, they're cut from a very similar political cloth, in terms of their positions, which have really overturned conservative and Republican strategies for decades. They've made changes to that, and so they're a similar in that regard in that they share a lot of these core ideologies. Maybe their similarities have caused them to butt heads at times, because Bannon was [ultimately] fired from the White House and was no longer [the president's] counsel. But it seemed like they were going to work together to change the Republican Party from the outside…

    It looked like they were going to try and take on Republican members of Congress. If you take a look for example at Jeff Flake from Arizona stepping down in the Senate –that's just one example of them working to change the party.

    But this book has clearly changed all of that and I think the relationship has really soured again.

    White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon departs after a meeting about the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. (File)
    © REUTERS / Aaron P. Bernstein
    White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon departs after a meeting about the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. (File)

    Sputnik: What kind of impact is this book ultimately going to have?

    Glen Duerr: In the short term, I think it will have a significant impact. I think the president's polling numbers will be hit further. He's kind of in the upper thirties right now, which isn't great for a president, and one that wants to be reelected. So I think you'll see through January and maybe even into February the polling numbers languish. 

    But once Congress gets back to work, when they start moving beyond tax reform, when people file their taxes, I think the book will have limited medium and long-term impact.

    U.S. President Donald Trump displays his signature after signing the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul plan along with a short-term government spending bill in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S
    © REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
    U.S. President Donald Trump displays his signature after signing the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul plan along with a short-term government spending bill in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S

    Sputnik: Do you think we're going to see some backlash from President Trump?

    Glen Duerr: I don't think there will be long-term impact for most. I think he will continue to use the term 'Sloppy Steve' and will go after Steve Bannon for example; he will continue to attack Michael Wolff via Twitter. But it really depends on the staying power of this book. It's already number one with presales with Amazon; it's flying off the shelves in local bookstores. I think a lot of people across the political spectrum are interested. So it really depends if this book continues to have an impact. At some point, President Trump will probably have a cabinet reshuffle, and some of the quotes in this book could have an impact there.

    Sputnik: What do you make of the demand for the book, and its popularity? Why does everyone seem to want to have a copy?

    Glen Duerr: I think in part it's [the fact that] President Trump is a real lightning rod. He has his core supporters, who love him and back him. The Democratic side, or roughly half the country, is vehemently opposed to him, and I think to a wider degree than any other Republican in public life. That's the first key issue.

    The second one is that it's simply of interest to a lot of people. What was it like in his first 100 days? They're interested in White House politics, and then also comparing it in terms of history.

    The third factor is that Trump himself has [brought up] libel laws, and I think that prompted a lot of people just to go out and buy the book. In a way, talking about it so frequently on Twitter, and through [spokeswoman] Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has kind of interested a lot of people who really don't want to see any changes to libel laws, that want freedom of the press, and I think it's his own reaction that has prompted greater book sales.

    The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Duerr are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    expert analysis, political analysis, book, Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, United States
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