‘Very stable genius’ Trump slams ‘very weak’ libel laws

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WASHINGTON — Plainly agitated by a new book portraying him as dysfunctional, President Donald Trump is bemoaning his country’s “very weak” libel laws and making the case that he’s “like, really smart” and, indeed, a “very stable genius.”

Trump defense of his mental fitness in a series of tweets was a singular episode in a presidency rife with moments unlike any that have come before in that office.

He was pushing back against “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which paints him as a leader who doesn’t understand the weight of his office and whose competence is questioned by aides.

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” Trump tweeted from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, a few hours before a strategy session on the 2018 legislative agenda with Republican congressional leaders and Cabinet members.

And when Trump addressed reporters later, the Ivy League graduate was ready for the question.

“I went to the best colleges for college,” said Trump, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. “I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out, made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for president one time and won.”

His ire was directed at author Michael Wolff, whose book draws a derogatory portrait of the 45th president as an undisciplined man-child who didn’t actually want to win the White House and who spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the telephone to old friends.

The book also quotes Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and other prominent advisers as questioning the president’s competence.

“I consider it a work of fiction,” Trump told reporters. “The libel laws are very weak in this country. If they were strong, it would be very helpful. You wouldn’t have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes to your head.”

He went on: “I don’t know this man. I guess sloppy Steve brought him in the White House quite a bit and it was one of those things. That’s why sloppy Steve is now looking for a job,” Trump said.

In one of his morning tweets, the president said critics are “taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.”

He said his journey from “VERY successful businessman,” to reality TV star to president on his first try “would qualify as not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!”

Reagan died in 2004, at age 93, from pneumonia complicated by the Alzheimer’s disease that had progressively clouded his mind. At times when he was president, Reagan seemed forgetful and would lose his train of thought while talking.

Doctors, however, said Alzheimer’s was not to blame, noting the disease was diagnosed years after he left office. Reagan announced his diagnosis in a letter to the American people in 1994, more than five years after leaving the White House.

Trump, now 71, was the oldest president ever when assuming office. Reagan was nearly eight months younger. — AP


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