TIME spoke to author Michael Wolff about his new book Fire and Fury on Jan. 8 in New York City. Here is a transcript of that conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
I want to jump off with some of the more recent developments around Fire and Fury, including Steve Bannon’s apology for statements that he was quoted as making in the book. What did you make of the apology — did it surprise you?
Yeah, it did surprise me. It’s not so much surprising as trying to figure out what Steve’s next move is. I like Steve. I probably don’t agree with much of what he would like to happen in this country, but I do like him. He was very helpful for this project, and much more to the point, he was incredibly insightful.
And chief strategist was a very good title for Steve because Steve is always strategizing. So, I assume that’s what he’s doing now.
Some tend to think that to Steve Bannon, it’s all a big game, and eventually he will find his way back into President Trump’s good graces. Eventually there’ll be a made-for-reality TV reunion of sorts between the two.
Donald Trump doesn’t necessarily stay mad for very long. He’s a transactional guy. If you can offer him something, he will take it. Or from a salesman’s point of view, if he’s not making the sale, you’re of no use to him. But if you suddenly come back into the showroom and are willing to buy, he’s willing to sell.
Have you been in touch with Steve Bannon since the book’s launch?
Let me not go there.
People in this book, with perhaps one big exception, seem as though they ought to know better in terms of speaking to a roving reporter who’d been granted access. What accounts for the degree of trust you’ve enjoyed in breaking such kind of explosive news?
You know, I’m not sure I would call it “trust.” This is a White House where everybody is speaking constantly to reporters — to anybody who will listen. They have a need to talk. They have a need to understand, I think, what they themselves are doing, what are they doing there.
The curious thing about my book is that I don’t think that I am the only one who knows this. Quite the opposite. Anybody who’s spending time around the White House knows a lot of what I know. Or most of what I know. They just aren’t writing it. And they aren’t writing it because there’s a difference between being a daily reporter and being a book writer. I had two luxuries. The first luxury is I don’t have to go back again. All of these other reporters have to go back again. The other luxury is I get to sit back and watch and absorb and produce a story. Not just a news break, but sort of the full monty of Trumpland.