Rattled by a one-two punch of betrayal and scandal, Donald Trump on Thursday tried to block the publication of a bare-knuckle book that portrays his White House as a fetid stew of backbiting, incompetence and dysfunction.
The publishers responded by moving the release date up by four days to Friday.
Trump instructed his lawyers to prevent the release of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" -- an expose by author and political muckraker Michael Wolff -- which quotes key Trump aides expressing serious doubt about his fitness for office.
The publisher of 'Fire and Fury' Henry Holt confirms that we received a cease and desist letter from an attorney for President Trump," Patricia Eisemann, a spokeswoman for the Publisher Henry Holt & Co. said in a statement. "We see 'Fire and Fury' as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book."
The author of the book Michael Wolff took to Twitter on Thursday to confirm the release, saying you can buy the book from Friday.
"Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President," he tweeted.
This move came by the publishers, after President Trump's lawyers sent Wolff and Henry Holt a cease and desist letter, demanding not to release the book as they claim the excerpts and other portions released from the book are defamatory.
The publisher was given until Friday to respond to the letter.
The book -- which paints Trump as mentally unstable and far out of his depth -- quotes at length his former ally and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who also received a "cease and desist" order from Trump's attorneys.
"Your publication of the false/baseless statements about Mr. Trump gives rise to, among other claims, defamation by libel, defamation by libel per se, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with contractual relations, and inducement of breach of contract," Trump's lawyers said in the letter to Wolff.
In the book, Bannon is quoted accusing Trump's eldest son Don Jr of "treasonous" contacts with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, and saying the president's daughter Ivanka, who imagines running for president one day, is "dumb as a brick."Criticism from aides
But it is Trump himself who is cast in the most unfavorable light by a series of his top aides.
The book claims that for "Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, the president was an 'idiot.' For Gary Cohn, he was 'dumb as shit.' For H.R. McMaster, he was a 'dope.' The list went on."
White House issued a scorched-earth dismissal of the book, its author and his sources.
"I don't think (Americans) really care about some trash that an author that no one had ever heard of until today, or a fired employee, wants to peddle," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, calling the book "complete fantasy."
Behind the scenes, though, Trump has been enraged by the betrayal by Bannon -- a man who engineered the New York real estate mogul's link to the nationalist far right and helped create a pro-Trump media ecosystem.
"He called me a great man last night. He obviously changed his tune pretty quick," Trump said in the White House's Roosevelt Room Thursday.
Sanders suggested that Bannon's employer, Breitbart News, should consider firing him.Russia allegations
He wasn't fired, but Bannon's main financial backer is formally cutting ties with him, The Washington Post reported.
"I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected," the newspaper quoted billionaire conservative donor Rebekah Mercer as saying.
Her family has had no contact with Bannon for months, nor has it given money to support his political agenda, "nor do we support his recent actions and statements," she was quoted as saying.
Bannon, who left the White House in August, is also quoted in the book as saying that the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election will focus on money laundering.
The investigation by Mueller, a former FBI director, is looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to help get him elected -- a charge the president has repeatedly and vehemently denied.
Russia-related allegations in the book also ensnare Don Junior, who took a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 after an intermediary promised material that would incriminate Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting at Trump Tower in New York.Disbelief over victory
"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers," Bannon was quoted as saying in the book.
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately," he said.
Wolff's book -- which he says is based on interviews with Trump, his senior aides and others -- makes a litany of shocking claims, including Trump's belief that he installed Mohammed bin Salman as Saudi Arabia's crown prince.
"We've put our man on top," Trump is said to have claimed to friends.
The book also claims that Trump considered appointing a friend to the Supreme Court vacancy filled by Neil Gorsuch, eats food from McDonald's because he believes it to be safe from poison, and that his team did not believe he was capable of winning the election.
"Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend -- Trump might actually win -- seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears -- and not of joy," it said.
On Wednesday, the former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, described President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump as "dumb as a brick" in the upcoming book.
The Bannon's observation about Ivanka was reported by The Wall Street Journal, which has reviewed Michael Wolff's new book.
Earlier in the day, Bannon, who was fired from the White House job last year during an investigation into the Russia's interference in the presidential election, had already grabbed the headlines after it was reported that he had described, in the same book, a meeting between the president's son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic".
Trump criticised Bannon for his comments and said the latter not only lost his job, but his mind too after being fired from the White House.
According to the Guardian, the book is based on hundreds of interviews, including the ones taken from Trump's courtiers.
Bannon also reportedly told Wolff that investigation into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia is centred on money laundering and claimed that "they're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV".
Bannon was the chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months and also the White House chief strategist for seven months before he was fired off from his position.
Three congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating Russia's interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.