Donald Trump has predictably hit out at an explosive tell-all book about his time in the White House written by a reporter who exposed the Watergate scandal.
‘Fear: Trump In The White House’ by celebrated Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward has infuriated the White House, after exposing how Trump’s aides called him an ‘idiot’ and snatched sensitive documents off his desk to keep him from taking rash actions.
The President described the book as a ‘con on the public’ on Twitter ahead of the book’s publication.
He tweeted: “The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly.”
He added: “Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?”
Trump earlier described the incendiary book as ‘nasty stuff’, denying certain scenes even occurred.
The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly. Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2018
The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
The President spoke to the conservative Daily Caller after details emerged about the book, calling it ‘another bad book’ and saying Mr Woodward has ‘a lot of credibility problems’.
Trump also denied that senior aides took sensitive documents from his desk, saying ‘there was nobody taking anything from me’.
The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dismissed the book as ‘nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad’.
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The book quotes chief of staff John Kelly as having doubts about Trump’s mental faculties, declaring during one meeting ‘we’re in Crazytown’.
It also says he called Trump an ‘idiot’, an account that Mr Kelly denied.
He said in a statement: “The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true.”
Mr Woodward helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s with fellow journalist Carl Bernstein.
Their reporting implicated President Richard Nixon in the scandal and he later resigned the presidency.
One of the extraordinary claims in Mr Woodward’s book is that Trump ordered the assassination of Syrian leader Bashar Assad after he launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017.
Trump is reported to have called Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis to tell him he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying ‘kill him! Let’s go in’.
Mr Mattis assured Mr Trump he would get right on it but then told a senior aide they would do nothing of the kind, Mr Woodward wrote.
National security advisers instead developed options for the airstrike that Mr Trump ordered.
Mr Woodward also claims that Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, boasted of removing papers from the President’s desk to prevent Trump from signing them into law, including efforts to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The book also quotes Trump as mocking his attorney general Jeff Sessions, who has been a target of the President’s wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
‘This guy is mentally retarded,’ Trump said of Mr Sessions, according to the book.
‘He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.’
Trump did not speak to Mr Woodward until after the book’s manuscript was completed.
The Post released audio of Trump expressing surprise about the book in an August conversation with Mr Woodward.
Mr Woodward tells Trump he had contacted multiple officials to attempt to interview him and was rebuffed.
The book follows the January release of author Michael Wolff’s Fire And Fury, which led to a rift between Mr Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, who spoke with Mr Wolff in terms that were highly critical of the President and his family.
Explosive passages from the book
- White House chief of staff John Kelly on working for Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown.”
- Trump on attorney general Jeff Sessions: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb southerner. How in the world was I ever persuaded to pick him for my attorney general? He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama. What business does he have being attorney general?”
- The President after making a speech condemning white supremacists over violence in Charlottesville: “That was the biggest f****** mistake I’ve made. You never make those concessions. You never apologise. I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. Why look weak?”
- Trump to former director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn when he tried to resign after Charlottesville: “This is treason.”
- Defence secretary Jim Mattis on Iranian leaders: “Those idiot raghead mullahs.”
- Trump after Twitter doubled its character count for a single tweet from 140 to 280: “It’s a good thing, but it’s a bit of a shame because I was the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”
- The President on his nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “Little Rocket Man. I think that may be my best ever, best nickname ever.”
- Ivanka Trump, when told she was a ‘staffer’ by Steve Bannon: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter and I’m never going to be a staffer.”
- Deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes on Mr Kelly: “He’s not a detail guy. Never put more than one page in front of him.”