Inside “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”
On Wednesday January 3rd, 2018, the White House was blindsided with the release of excerpts from a new book by journalist Michael Wolff, who had been granted virtually unlimited access to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for several months. To say that “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” paints an unflattering portrait of the 45th president would perhaps qualify as the understatement of the year, young though it is. “Idiot”, “dope”, and “dumb as shit” are just a few of the descriptive words and phrases Wolff’s interviewees used to describe Donald Trump.
But these were not Democratic or liberal politicians, activists and pundits speaking, denigrating a political opponent. They were supporters and friends, top administration aides and staff, the people who worked with Trump on a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute, basis. “Idiot” was how both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus characterized him; National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster concurred with this assessment, further opining that he was a “dope”, with the intelligence of a “kindergartener.” White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh also infantilized Trump, stating that managing the president was “like trying to figure out what a child wants.” Gary Cohn, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and currently chief economic adviser to the president, offered “dumb as shit” to describe him, and is quoted as sending an email to his former colleagues reading, in part: “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns.” Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend and adviser to Trump, was quoted as telling a friend that the president is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.”
It will hardly come as a shock to frequent readers of this site to learn that I am not going to quibble or quarrel with these statements. In fact, in my opinion they don’t go quite far enough – I prefer the approach taken by Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who described Trump, after a particularly exasperating attempt to brief him about North Korea in July, as “a fucking moron.”
As demoralizing and embarrassing as these observations are, the truly blistering commentary came from Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist and Breitbart editor, whose populist base forms the core of Trump’s meager support. Wolff depended heavily on Bannon for his narrative, and among the pearls of wisdom dispensed were accusations that Don Jr’s June 2016 meeting with Russian agents was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, stating it should have been reported to the FBI. He was brutal in his assessment of Jared Kushner and First Daughter Ivanka, and his appraisal of Trump’s mental fitness is stark at best: “He’s lost it.”
It didn’t take long for Trump to set his Twitter guns blazing in response: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind . . .” and later described him as “crying and begging” for his job when Trump fired him in August.
The book has certainly caused a sensation. Originally scheduled for release on January 9, the response to the leaked excerpts was so overwhelming, the publisher moved up the date to January 5th, despite a “cease and desist” order from Trump’s lawyers, and it sold out immediately.
Looking at transits for January 3rd, when the excerpts became public, the first point of note is the Sun’s degree – 13 Capricorn. This is precisely sesquiquadrate to the 28 Leo degree of August’s total solar eclipse, known as the “American Eclipse”, which fell on Trump’s natal Ascendant. This re-stimulates the eclipse’s effects, which are to cause others to view Trump differently. It is also semisquare to the upcoming solar eclipse of 27 Aquarius in February, which falls exactly on Trump’s natal Ophelia, a point noted for its connections to mental deterioration and insanity. More of that in a bit.
The Sun is in the midst of a string of points including asteroids Askalaphus at 9 Capricorn, Washingtonia at 10, Achilles at 14, and an exact pairing of Icarus with Pluto at 18 Capricorn. Askalaphus relates to tale-bearing, as in this tell-all expose of the Trump White House; Washingtonia of course refers to the nation’s capital, where the action takes place; Achilles represents a weakness or vulnerability which threatens to destroy the native; Icarus suggests rash, reckless actions heedless of the consequences; and Pluto rules scandal and gossip.
The major players in the melodrama are all in evidence as well. Asteroid Wolff at 21 Scorpio conjoins Stevens (for Steve Bannon) at 23 Scorpio, binding the author and his chief informant celestially. These square Damocles, the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 22 Aquarius, and are also within orb of the gathering Mars/Jupiter conjunction, then at 16 and 17 Scorpio, with Jupiter ruling politics and publishing and Mars ruling attacks. Asteroid Michelle, feminine variant of “Michael”, appears at 21 Sagittarius, exactly conjunct Mercury, the news of the day as well as writing, authors and books generally. These square Chiron at 24 Pisces, representing maverick behaviors and a wound, and are also tapped directly into Trump’s natal chart, with Mercury/Michelle exactly atop his natal Moon and closely opposing his Sun at 22 Gemini, which is currently undergoing yet another exact conjunction from transit TNO Chaos, bringing more havoc in its wake. Asteroid Banno, for Bannon, falls at 15 Libra, atop Trump’s natal Chiron (wounding)/Jupiter (politics, publishing) conjunction at 14 and 17 Libra, while also squaring the solar stellium in Capricorn described above, tapping Bannon directly into the energies of the day.
Trump is there as well, in the form of asteroid Troemper, which at 29 Virgo squares transit Saturn at 1 Capricorn and opposes TNO Salacia at 0 Aries. Saturn represents harsh reality, criticism, and career matters; Salacia is the root of our word “salacious”, and the sensational, scandalous quality of these revelations has certainly captivated the public.
The importance of Wolff and Bannon in Trump’s biography cannot be underestimated. Asteroids Stevens and Banno straddle Trump’s natal Vertical Axis, with Banno at 23 Taurus conjunct the 24 Taurus MC, and Stevens at 24 Scorpio exact on the IC. Angular placements like this for PNAs show intense focus and involvement in the life. Not to be outdone, asteroid Wolff appears at 24 Aquarius, tightly squaring the MC/Banno-IC/Stevens axis, as well as conjunct the 29 Aquarius Descendant, and that troubling Ophelia at 27 Aquarius.
Note also that transit Stevens at 23 Scorpio is fast approaching its natal degree, so Trump is in the throes of a “Banno Return” at the time. Like any celestial return, this is a time for a reset, a reappraisal and adjustment in the functioning of the point involved. In this case, it appears to have created a definite rift between the two, a termination of their relationship, which continued by phone after Bannon formally left the White House. This rift may be permanent, but with a personality as transactional as Trump’s, there may well be a rapprochement down the road, when and if he feels he needs Bannon again.
In Steve Bannon’s chart (born 27 November 1953), asteroid Troemper falls at 20 Sagittarius, the degree adjacent to the Mercury/Michelle conjunction for the excerpts’ release. Thus it is also conjoined Trump’s natal Moon and opposed his Sun, making for a very intimate, almost familial, bond between them. Squaring this point is Bannon’s natal asteroid Askalaphus at 17 Virgo, pointing to a tendency toward “loose lips” where Trump is concerned, and backing up his recent assertion that Bannon was responsible for most of the leaks from the White House which occurred during his tenure there. Forming a T-Square is Bannon’s natal Jupiter, in opposition to Troemper at 23 Gemini, and conjoined Trump’s Sun. This “inflates” Trump’s natural bent toward self-aggrandizement, puffing him up and making him “moreso.”
Also exacerbating Trump’s natal Chiron/Jupiter pairing is a mini-stellium of Bannon’s natal asteroids Washingtonia, America and Toro at 13, 14 and 16 Libra, conjoined natal Mars, also at 16 Libra. This grouping “eggs on” (Mars) Trump in a political sense (Jupiter), emphasizing nativist, “America first” political philosophies (America), pushing the bullying behaviors (Toro) Trump is noted for (his own Toro also conjoins Jupiter, from 21 Libra), and encouraging his drive for political power (Washingtonia), bringing Bannon along for the ride. The effect this may have can be seen in a Grand Trine sported by Bannon – his Sun at 5 Sagittarius trines both asteroid Whitehouse at 2 Leo and TNO Chaos at 0 Aries, both points at station. Bannon carries his particular brand of anarchy and turbulence with him to the Oval Office.
Michael Wolff is a born muckraker, with an exact conjunction of scandal-focused Pluto and journalistic Mercury at 23 Leo, a degree also sensitized by last August’s solar eclipse. In his birth chart (27 August 1953), asteroid Troemper falls at 14 Scorpio, close beside transit Mars and Jupiter for his provocative (Mars) book’s publication (Jupiter). Troemper also squares Wolff’s natal Mars at 18 Leo, so there’s a strong potential for conflict there. A combination of TNO Salacia and asteroid Nemesis at 4 and 6 Capricorn, both trine the Sun and at station, shows a tendency to highlight the sensational (Salacia) to others’ detriment (Nemesis), and the specific focus of this particular journalistic foray can be seen in this pair’s opposition to Wolff’s natal asteroid Whitehouse at 7 Cancer. With a stationary Nemesis, it’s part of Wolff’s karmic destiny to expose wrongdoing and bring others to justice; with this point aligned with Trump’s natal Whitehouse at 4 Capricorn, we see this role reiterated, in the person of the current occupant.
Beyond the mere sensationalism of the book, and the emotionally satisfying derision of the President’s intellectual capacities by those closest to him which it portrays, there is a deeper, more disturbing aspect to its revelations. This is hardly the first time that Trump’s mental acuity and fitness to serve have been called into question, on a variety of levels. Wolff describes a man who is completely devoid of intellectual curiosity: “Trump didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate . . . . Some thought him dyslexic; certainly his comprehension was limited. Others concluded that he didn’t read because he didn’t have to, and that in fact this was one of his key attributes as a populist. He was postliterate—total television. But not only didn’t he read, he didn’t listen. He preferred to be the person talking. And he trusted his own expertise—no matter how paltry or irrelevant—more than anyone else’s. What’s more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention.”
This is supported by more of Gary Cohn’s provocative email: “Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.” Wolff alleges that not only Katie Walsh, but every aide he spoke with, to a person, compared the 45th president to a child, in the sense that he needed constant stimulation, bored easily, lacked attention and had difficulty focusing.
This can certainly be sourced to Trump’s natal Uranus/Sun pairing, at 17 and 22 Gemini. Restless, peripatetic, lacking self-control, subject to sudden whims and outbursts, craving instant gratification, eschewing structure or responsibility; these are all easily identifiable Uranian traits which have become welded to Trump’s inner essence due to the Uranus conjunction to his Sun. Among Uranus’ other characteristic qualities are a desire to provoke or shock others; rebellion against all restriction; disruptive, unsettling behaviors; instability and volatility; and extreme eccentricity.
Bad enough on their own, especially in the leader of the Free World, but there is yet another side to Uranus – madness. Of course, the flip side of madness is genius, but I think we can all agree, Trump is no genius. What he is, is lucky, extremely lucky, based in the stationary Jupiter, which turned direct within hours of his birth. But that luck may be about to run out.
Further supporting the idea that mental deterioration may be setting in, is that problematic Ophelia placement. Ophelia represents insanity, based in the character from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, who gradually loses her grip on reality and ends by accidentally drowning herself. At 27 Aquarius, Trump’s natal Ophelia lies on the 29 Aquarius Descendant, giving it angular force and power; it is trine the natal Sun, granting it access to Trump’s core being; and it is stationary, turning retrograde just four days after his birth, making it an embedded, immobile force in Trump’s psyche, a locus of activity which dramatically increases its influence. Forces flow and eddy around this point, and one of those forces, natally, is asteroid Wolff.
Michael Wolff paints a picture in his book of Trump’s gradual mental deterioration, citing incidents where he fails to recognize old friends, cannot contain angry, emotional outbursts, and is becoming increasingly repetitive. Trump tends to repeat stories, word for word and gesture for gesture, but what used to be a 25-30 minute cycle of repetition, has now shrunk to a 10-minute window. With Sisyphus at 28 Scorpio, an asteroid representing endless repetition and boredom, in a strong angular position on his IC, Trump naturally repeats himself and is easily bored, but what Wolff describes indicates a dramatic intensification of this tendency, perhaps betraying mental deterioration.
What may act to further exacerbate any incipient breakdown or erosion of mental faculties is the intense eclipse pressure Trump has been, and will be, experiencing. The American Eclipse of August 2017 not only conjoined his Ascendant and Mars, it opposed Ophelia with a one-degree orb, and the upcoming solar eclipse of February 15th conjoins it exactly. This could indicate a crisis point has been reached.
In addition to the character traits described above, Uranus is also known as “the Awakener”, something that shatters barriers and evokes enhanced perception or understanding of the underlying realities. In this light, we may consider fortuitous the fact that, when these excerpts were released, asteroid America at 24 Aries was exactly conjunct transit Uranus in the sky, which had come to station that very day. Will Americans and the country at large finally wake up to the potential dangers posed by having Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and will they take action to prevent them in time?