How did you find all these sources? After “Fire and Fury,” weren’t you persona non grata in the West Wing?
Everybody continued to talk to me. When “Fire and Fury” came out, I thought Steve Bannon would certainly never speak to me again, and the truth is, he never stopped speaking. But the other element of this is — I think a key one — is I’m a New York guy. Donald Trump is a New York guy. In the end, we know a lot of the same people. There is this conversation among these people about Donald Trump. And I am fortunate to be in that loop.
You wrote “Fire and Fury” with physical access to the White House. Did you have that this time?
I have not been in the White House for this book, no. But a very large percentage of the people who spoke to me for the first book have continued to speak to me for the second book. Partly because they can’t stop talking about Donald Trump, and I’m a good listener. But also because I think the portrait in the first book worked for them.
Did you seek an interview with the president?
He tried to stop the publication last time. I think that would be a fool’s errand, to invite the president of the United States to come down on you.
Arguably, Trump’s anger was an accelerant for the sales of the book.
As it turned out. But at that moment, it didn’t feel like that was what it was going to be.
You felt concerned?
Yeah! If the president of the United States comes after you, you feel concerned.
In your author’s note, you write that “Siege” captures “an emotional state rather than a political state” of the presidency.
I’ve said many times: I’m not a Washington reporter. And Washington reporters, they do a great job. They do their job. I approached this as, that the more significant factor here, beyond policy, was buffoonery, psychopathology, random and ad hominem cruelties. In a way, my thesis is that this administration, this character, needed a different kind of writer.