In an extraordinary public defence of his own mental stability, Donald Trump issued a volley of tweets that seemed guaranteed to add fuel to a raging political fire.
Suggestions in a new tell-all book that he was mentally unfit to be president were out of “the old Ronald Reagan playbook”, Trump wrote on Saturday.
“Actually,” the president added, “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”
He also said he “would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”
The book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, burst into the public consciousness on Wednesday, when the Guardian reported excerpts nearly a week ahead of publication. Trump threatened to sue but succeeded only in prompting the publisher Henry Holt to bring the book forward.
Wolff presents a picture of a doomed administration lurching from crisis to crisis, steered by a childlike figure who responds to overstimulation with intense, reflexive outbursts.
“The president may not be able to restrain himself from commenting but I can restrain myself from commenting on his comments,” Wolff told the Guardian on Saturday.
At a lunchtime press conference at Camp David, the president was asked why he tweeted. In a characteristically freewheeling answer, he said: “Only because I went to the best colleges or college. I went to – I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people.