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Calling Out Trump in New Memoir

Former first lady says she can’t forgive him

11/15/2018, 10:57 a.m.
Former first lady Michelle Obama finds some criticism for President Donald Trump in her new book, writing how she reacted ...
Michelle Obama writes openly about everything from growing up in Chicago to confronting racism in public life to her amazement at becoming the county’s first black first lady in her memoir ‘Becoming.’

(AP) -- Former first lady Michelle Obama finds some criticism for President Donald Trump in her new book, writing how she reacted in shock the night she learned he would replace her husband in the Oval Office and tried to “block it all out.”

She also denounces Trump’s “birther” campaign questioning her husband’s citizenship, calling it bigoted and dangerous, “deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks.”

“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”

In her memoir "Becoming," out in bookstores this week, Obama writes openly about everything from growing up in Chicago to confronting racism in public life to her amazement at becoming the country's first black first lady. She also reflects on early struggles in her marriage to Barack Obama as he began his political career and was often away. She writes that they met with a counselor "a handful of times," and she came to realize that she was more "in charge" of her happiness than she had realized. "This was my pivot point," Obama explains. "My moment of self-arrest."

Obama writes that she assumed Trump was "grandstanding" when he announced his presidential run in 2015. She expresses disbelief over how so many women would choose a "misogynist" over Hillary Clinton, "an exceptionally qualified female candidate." She remembers how her body "buzzed with fury" after seeing the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.

She also accuses Trump of using body language to "stalk" Clinton during an election debate. She writes of Trump following Clinton around the stage, standing nearby and "trying to diminish her presence."

Trump's message, according to Obama, in words which appear in the book in darkened print: "I can hurt you and get away with it."

The Associated Press purchased an early copy of "Becoming," one of the most anticipated political books in recent memory. Obama is admired worldwide and has offered few extensive comments on her White House years. And memoirs by former first ladies, including Clinton and Laura Bush, are usually best-sellers.

Obama launches her promotional tour Tuesday not at a bookstore, but at Chicago's United Center, where tens of thousands of people have purchased tickets — from just under $30 to thousands of dollars — to attend the event moderated by Oprah Winfrey. Other stops on a tour scaled to rock star dimensions are planned at large arenas from New York City's Barclays Center to the Los Angeles Forum, with guests including Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker. While some fans have criticized the price as too high, 10 percent of tickets at each event are being donated to local charities, schools and community groups.

In "Becoming," Obama shares both pain and joy. She writes lovingly of her family and gives a detailed account of her courtship with her future husband, whom she met when both were at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin LLP; she was initially his adviser. Secretaries claimed he was both brilliant and "cute," although Michelle Obama was skeptical, writing that white people went "bonkers" any time you "put a suit" on a "half-intelligent black man." She also thought his picture had a "whiff of geekiness."