A common practice in the aftermath of an American presidential election is the release of dozens of books by journalists who covered the whole thing. From Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, which was fast-tracked for an April release, to Katy Tur’s Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History, which hits stores in September, the deluge is already under way. The arrival of Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, however, stands apart from the rest.
That’s because the Bloomberg political correspondent’s stories about the inner workings of the Trump campaign and its chief mastermind — a former Breitbart executive and Seinfeld millionaire — are absolutely bonkers. Considering Bannon’s previous statements about the press, Sean Spicer, and his ties to conservatives’ Seth Rich conspiracy infatuation, however, Green’s anecdotes in Devil’s Bargain don’t seem all that far-fetched. In stores Tuesday, July 18th for all to read and gawk at, the first reviews for the book are out now, and they’re chock-full of some fantastic quotes. Here are five of our favorites.
1. ‘Limp-Dick’ Paul Ryan
Green documents several instances in which Bannon freely expressed his sour opinion of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). The former vice presidential candidate, whom Bannon’s Breitbart frequently targeted, stoked the Trump campaign chief executive’s ire when rumors circulated he would try to force the New York real estate mogul out of the running with a brokered Republican convention.
“Pepe’s gonna stomp their ass,” said Bannon, referencing the army of Breitbart devotees with green frog avatars he commanded. (Pepe is the cartoon mascot co-opted by the alt-right and deemed a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League.) If that wasn’t enough, Trump’s campaign guru also berated the House Speaker regularly while he still had ties to the Breitbart office. At one point, he went so far as to describe Ryan as “a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.”
2. “You treat me like a baby”
Late in the 2016 election, a New York magazine article suggested Kellyanne Conway and other members of the Trump campaign were advising the Republican nominee via their television appearances. Both this and a New York Times article sent Trump off into a rage against demoted campaign manager Paul Manafort and his aides. “How can anybody allow an article that says your campaign is all fucked up?” he exclaimed.
“You think you’ve gotta go on TV to talk to me?” Trump shouted. “You treat me like a baby! Am I like a baby to you? I sit there like a little baby and watch TV and you talk to me? Am I a fucking baby, Paul?”
Manafort ultimately resigned from the campaign due to reports detailing his alleged involvement in Russia’s hostile actions against the Ukraine, though Green’s account indicates the seeds were sown long before those articles first broke.
3. “That’s like nineteen levels lower”
Trump, whose first six months as president seem to be going well, apparently thought the job would be much easier than anything he’d done in the business world. “I deal with people that are very extraordinarily talented people,” he explained to the author soon after garnering the Republican nomination in July. “I deal with Steve Wynn. I deal with Carl Icahn. I deal with killers that blow these [politicians] away. It’s not even the same category. [Politics] is a category that’s like nineteen levels lower. You understand what I’m saying? Brilliant killers.”
4. World of Warcraft
While running a Internet business from Hong Kong, Bannon stumbled upon the World of Warcraft online gaming community, which he described as consisting of “intense young men” who “disappeared for days or even weeks at a time in alternate realities.” These “rootless white males,” he argued, could provide him with “monster power” should their strength and numbers be made applicable to something other than online gaming — like American politics. Bannon ultimately engineered a way through which to tap the energy of what he called “pre-Reddit” — both during his time running Breitbart, and while on the campaign trail for Trump.
5. Megyn Kelly
At this point, it’s difficult to recall the most notable gaffes of the Trump campaign since, along with the resulting presidency, there are too many to count. That said, one of the Republican candidate’s most-reported scandals came at the hands of his post-debate treatment of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. According to Green, the scene inside the Trump campaign at the time was complete chaos — especially after Kelly spent several episodes of The Kelly File covering the aftermath of The Daily Beast’s report concerning allegations of sexual abuse by Ivana Trump.
Michael Cohen, the Trump lawyer at the center of the story, railed against the news site and called it “a joke.” Bannon, however, saved his choicest words for the late Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. The rift between the two media moguls was well documented at the time, but Green’s additions are telling, especially since he claims Ailes asked Bannon to relent. “Fuck that,” he told the Fox News CEO. He also called Kelly “pure evil” and threatened to “unchain the dogs” against her and Fox News. Bannon then allegedly concluded the conversation with Ailes by saying, “Go fuck yourself.”