The former prime minister Tony Blair and the American author Michael Wolff have accused each other of lying, as the row about Blair’s dealings with Donald Trump’s White House reignited.
Wolff, whose bestselling book Fire and Fury presents a remarkable and highly negative account of Trump’s first year in office, said on Sunday that Blair was a “complete liar” in the way he dismissed claims in the book. Blair responded by saying Wolff’s stories about him were made up.
Blair features only briefly in the book, but Wolff claims that Blair was angling for a job as a Middle East peace envoy and that Blair told the Trump team that British intelligence may have been spying on them before Trump assumed the presidency.
As the book was published in January, Blair dismissed both claims, accusing Wolff of “complete invention”.
But in an interview on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Wolff insisted that he overheard a discussion between Blair and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and an adviser in the White House.
When Marr put it to Wolff that Blair had been outraged by the suggestion in the book that he had been pitching for a job, Wolff replied: “I sat in the White House on the couch listening – I wasn’t supposed to overhear this, but they were standing right there – with Tony Blair and Jared Kushner standing, not 15 feet in front of me, with Tony Blair – let me choose my words carefully – sucking up to Jared Kushner.”
Marr quoted the denial Blair gave last month. In response, Wolff said: “Then I have to say Tony Blair is a complete liar. Literally 15 feet away from me.”
Blair later responded to the interview by issuing a statement on Twitter through his thinktank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change:
This story is a complete fabrication. Michael Wolff has never been present at any conversation between Jared Kushner and Mr Blair. He neither sought such a role from Jared Kushner nor was offered one. And we note that many people have had the same experience with Michael Wolff. https://t.co/WlFEoZsnHw— Tony Blair Institute (@InstituteGC) February 25, 2018
Trump himself has strongly attacked the Wolff book, which depicts a White House where almost all senior staff agree that Trump does not have the temperament or ability to be president.
But many of the claims in the book have not been disputed, and Steve Bannon, the former Trump aide quoted in the book describing a meeting between Trump’s son and some Russians as “treasonous”, later apologised for what he had told the author.