Claims about President Donald Trump’s mental status — including that he often repeats himself several times over a few minutes — are “trash, actually,” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a friend of the president’s, said Friday.
“This is just so absurd, it’s so ridiculous,” Ruddy told CNN “New Day” co-anchor Chris Cuomo on claims by writer Michael Wolff in his new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Cuomo cited an interview Wolff gave Friday morning on NBC’s “Today” show where he claimed “100 percent” of the White House staff believes the president is mentally unfit for office.
“I was with the president in early December, and I spent an hour and a half with him in the private residence, and the conversation was terrific,” said Ruddy. “He was not repeating things.”
Ruddy mentioned he also was joined by a mutual friend, a respected medical doctor.
“He had no belief and view that the president was mentally incompetent and unfit. This is just an absurdity and it’s really trash, actually,” Ruddy said.
Ruddy also noted that he first met Trump 20 years ago, and has been around him often this past year, adding that Trump is not “psychologically unfit or has ‘lost it,’” as Wolff claims.
Ruddy added that he saw Trump “every other day” over a 10-day period during the Christmas holidays, and talked with him numerous times.
“He was remembering things, he was on point, he was following up on discussions,” said Ruddy. “I brought to the golf club a well-respected New York Times reporter who had a half-hour sit-down interview with him, Michael Schmidt … but I don’t believe Michael walked out and said, ‘This man is crazy, this man is unfit.'”
The allegations Ruddy said are “absurd” and coming from a writer who has “talked to a lot of disgruntled people at the White House.” He also said Wolff was citing anonymous sources who shared “kitchen table talk” – innocent blabber most people wouldn’t want public.
Ruddy also claimed that Steve Bannon was behind Wolff’s book, opening up doors for the author.
The president “is very unsuspecting of people and he just lets it all out, and that’s been one of his strengths with the public in a lot of ways,” said Ruddy. “We also see the weaknesses where people take advantage of the situation.”
Meanwhile, he described Wolff as a “liberal elite” whose friends “100 percent” voted for Hillary Clinton and “want to overturn the election result. That’s what this story is really about.”
Every president does make mistakes in office, he conceded, but Trump also has marked a period of stock market record highs and the “lowest unemployment in modern times.”
“I would recommend you read Ron Kessler’s book about the Secret Service about 10 years ago, and he interviewed all the Secret Service agents between John Kennedy and Bill Clinton,” said Ruddy. “What you find in there is amazing stories about what the presidents and their families do behind the scenes. Most of this never makes the light of day, gets out in public, but you will see that Donald Trump’s not too different than any other president in private.”
Ruddy said he believes Wolff’s book should be allowed to be published, but at the same time, the president should not be paying so much attention to Wolff or Bannon.
“But he does,” Cuomo argued. “He’s not used to this and it’s bringing out in him objectively, his worst side on a regular basis. Couldn’t that be a fair assessment?”
Ruddy agreed with Cuomo, but said the president is responding to a hostile media.
Ruddy argued the president should start a review process before tweets are made public while ignoring most critics.
He said the president is “punching down and getting in the gutter with these guys and he’s focusing too much” on them.
Ruddy also said that he would give more credence to claims about the president’s fitness for office if they were based on statements from his key advisers, like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly or Defense Secretary James Mattis, or even Vice President Mike Pence, because that would be a “serious charge.”
“They may have criticisms of the president, but you are not hearing that from a cabinet level,” said Ruddy.
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