Trump Has 'Trained Us To Not Take Him Seriously,' Biographer Says09:43
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President-elect Donald Trump stands outside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club, Nov. 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, N.J. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump stands outside the clubhouse at Trump International Golf Club, Nov. 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, N.J. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Former Newsday reporter and Donald Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio is one of the few people outside of Trump's family who have gotten to know him well.

D'Antonio joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson to talk about the president-elect's transition to the White House.

"Trump has trained us to not take him seriously," D'Antonio said. "And I think that is a fascinating phenomenon. I think it is dangerous."

Interview Highlights

On how Trump has handled the transition

"What really jumps out of me is that he's very much the same Donald I knew back in 2014. He's gonna proceed in an idiosyncratic way this sort of parade of people coming in to visit him, where there's really a lot of stagecraft involved, whether it's at the country club, where he stands a few steps above others and greets them, or they're trooping into Trump Tower. He's always putting himself in the best light, as he would find it. The rest of us may not expect this of a president-elect. But he's playing the game the way he's always played it, showing himself in the best light and trying to have the kind of power advantage in all of these exchanges. So we're getting the real guy here — there's no different Donald Trump emerging in the transition."

"The more people tell him not to do something and he does it anyway, the stronger he appears to the people who are fond of the Trump image. He's playing this game that he almost can't lose."

Michael D'Antonio

On why Trump favors tweeting

"There's nothing surprising about this. If you consider who Donald has always been, he's loved to go past the normal mediators. So he doesn't want to be communicating through a press conference, he wants to go directly to his social media followers. And these tweets, I think, are actually planned out in his head. I don't think it's as spontaneous as folks might think. He knows that he wants to get attention for a point of view, so the flag burning issue wasn't something drawn out of the news, but it was something that he thought would've appealed to a certain red-meat base of his. And I think it works.

"The more people tell him not to do something and he does it anyway, the stronger he appears to the people who are fond of the Trump image. He's playing this game that he almost can't lose. And I think that's something we all have to pull back and look at. It doesn't matter that there are no facts to base a claim about fraudulent vote by the millions. That's not the point. The point is that Donald is making a claim, and he's pressing a point of view and he's getting attention for it. Whether it's true or not, I really think it isn't important to him, and I'm not sure it's important to the people who voted for him."

On how Trump will manage his cabinet

"I think he's going to give [his cabinet members] big portfolios and expect them to act independently, along with guidelines that he sets, of course. If he's saying he's gonna 'make America great again,' and the secretary of transportation is gonna invest in infrastructure, and that makes America great again, I'm not sure he cares about the details. The other thing that they can have confidence in is that he'll support them even when they're under attack, because he's not gonna want to say that he made a mistake appointing them in the first place. So if Mitt Romney is having second thoughts about this, I think he might imagine, more realistically, that he'd be a pretty powerful secretary of state, because Donald knows he needs the help."

This segment aired on December 1, 2016.

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