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3 key ways Donald Trump’s Hollywood Reporter interview explains his campaign

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

One week ago, Donald Trump, fresh off an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, sat in his Beverly Hills mansion with a pint of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream in hand, ready to talk about Donald Trump.

It was a conversation for the Hollywood Reporter with Michael Wolff, a longtime media columnist known for writing the biography of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. And the interview itself was seemingly more intimate and revealing than the many that have come before it.

Comfortably situated in one of his many homes, Trump wasn't the "threatening and frightening and menacing" political outlier he has been painted as, Wolff said. Instead "his extreme self-satisfaction rubs off," Wolff wrote of their interaction.

Now, less than a week away from California's June 7 primary, the article has uncovered a new perspective on private Trump: a picture of a presidential candidate truly enjoying every part of finding political success.

Wolff's piece is full of wonderful Trumpisms, but three instances sum up the candidate who is seemingly more pleased with his ability to run for president than he is interested in what the president of the United States actually has to do.

1) Donald Trump really likes to talk about Donald Trump

Trump's love of himself is certainly nothing new. On the stump, Trump is always the subject of Trump's speeches, whether touting his wealth, his elite connections, his fundraising prowess, his beautiful family, his beautiful resort, or his artistry with dealmaking. It's Trump, Trump, Trump.

"If Trump is the subject of the conversation, then Trump is happy," Wolff writes.

That's the way he likes it.

"That notion is what's at the center of this improbable campaign, its own brilliant success. It's its main subject — the one you can't argue with. You can argue about issues, but you can't argue with success," Wolff writes:

His son-in-law, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, married to his daughter Ivanka and also a real estate scion — but clearly a more modest and tempered fellow, a wisp next to his beefsteak father-in-law — offered that they may have reached 100 percent name recognition. In other words, Trump could be the most famous man in the world right now. "I may be," says Trump, almost philosophically, and referencing the many people who have told him they've never seen anything like this.

Trump is uniquely Trump – a name known around the world – Wolff writes, and to him, that is of the utmost importance.

2) He has a "vague" understanding of what is going on in the world, and that's okay with him

"If there's any pattern to his conversation, it's that he's vague on all subjects outside himself, his campaign and the media. Everything else is mere distraction," Wolff writes.

Trump talks about his success; policy and current events come second. And while for any other candidate Trump's lack of awareness would be campaign-ending, it doesn't seem to bother him: He's more interested in touting his revolution.

Asked about the Gawker/Hulk Hogan scandal, Trump needed a little primer:

But I press him about Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who, earlier in the day, has admitted to funding the $140 million Hulk Hogan lawsuit against Gawker. Thiel also is his most prominent Silicon Valley backer and will go to the convention in July as a pledged delegate. But Trump needs reminding who he is, and then concludes he must be a friend of his son-in-law Jared. ("Wow, I love him! So he funded it for Hulk Hogan? You think Hulk Hogan would have enough money, but he probably doesn't.") Indeed, Trump doesn't appear to be interested in Silicon Valley, except to roll off his numbers on each social media platform.

More strikingly, when Wolff pressed him on his position on Brexit – the consequential June 23 vote that will determine whether Britain will stay in the European Union (which Trump has commented on in the past) – Trump seemed a bit confused by the vote's portmanteau:

"And Brexit? Your position?" I ask.

"Huh?"

"Brexit."

"Hmm."

"The Brits leaving the EU," I prompt, realizing that his lack of familiarity with one of the most pressing issues in Europe is for him no concern nor liability at all.

"Oh yeah, I think they should leave."

In the past, Trump has spun his unfamiliarity with typically topical issues as part of the media's attempt to trap him in a gaffe. The list of these "gotcha" moments is long: Trump has on multiple occasions misstated the Iran deal, didn't know key components of US's nuclear capacity, and confused the Kurds, an ethnic group in the Middle East, with the Quds Force, a special unit in Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

3) Trump sticks to what he knows and with whom he knows

"He loves everybody. Genuinely seems to love everybody — at least everybody who's rich and successful (he doesn't really talk about anyone who isn't)," Wolff writes.

And despite Trump's tirades about the media, he rubs elbows with the lot of them. He loves them.

"Expressing love for everybody, for most of us, would clearly seem to be an act. But with Trump, it's the name-calling and bluster that might be the act," Wolff writes, documenting Trump's sentiments for some of the media's most elite — News Corp's Rupert Murdoch, Viacom/CBS's Sumner Redstone, and CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves:

On Murdoch: "Rupert is a tremendous guy. I think Rupert [who for several years lived in the Trump building on 59th and Park Avenue in Manhattan] is one of the people I really respect and like. And I think Rupert respects what I've done." But what about Murdoch's grumpy Trump tweets? "When I got into the world of politics, that was a different realm for me and maybe he felt differently. But I think he respects what I've done and he's a tremendous guy and I think we have a very good relationship."

On Redstone: "Sumner, well, he's had a good run. Good run. Terrible it comes to this, but a good run. He'd give me anything. Loved me."

On Leslie Moonves: "Great guy. The greatest. We're on the same page. We think alike."

It's part of his celebrity. His persona of wealth hinges on being among the elite, close friends with the richest and most powerful names of the private world. They stay at his famed gold-encrusted resorts and are emblematic of his success. The one thing Wolff found to be Trump's greatest interest: being Trump.


Watch: The political science that predicted Trump's rise