Watergate star Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” is supposed to be an inside look at the current administration.
The reporter’s tome paints a chaotic picture of the administration while providing behind-the-scenes tales of the president’s clashes with his military generals and other members of the staff.
Woodward claims in this book that President Donald Trump chews out aides for incompetence or disloyalty — and that he berates his generals for not yet winning the war in Afghanistan.
The legendary journalist also details how former staff secretary Rob Porter and Gary Cohn, senior economic adviser, objected to the president’s tough stance on tariffs and trade.
The president has already called the book a work of fiction. Others in the administration have refuted its claims as well.
Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Here are 10 salacious claims this book makes about the Trump White House.
1.) John Dowd was convinced President Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post reported. So, on January 27, the president’s then-personal attorney staged a practice session to try to make his point.
Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation in preparation for a talk with special counsel Mueller, provoking contradictions and lies from the commander-in-chief — until the president’s temper erupted.
“This thing’s a god**** hoax,” Trump reportedly said in a 30-minute rant that finished with “I don’t really want to testify.”
2.) At a National Security Council meeting on January 19, Trump supposedly disregarded the importance of a U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds.
Trump supposedly questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.
“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis reportedly told him.
Again, there have been strong denials about a lot of this material.
3.) “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader,’ ” Woodward writes.
4.) “Secretaries of defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for,” Mattis allegedly told friends at one point, prompting laughter as he explained Trump’s tendency to go off on tangents.
5.) Gen. John Kelly, White House chief of staff, frequently told colleagues he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward alleges.
In one meeting, Kelly allegedly said of 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. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
6.) Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, worried that there was nothing he could do to restrain Trump. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and used Twitter, “the devil’s workshop,” according to The Post, and called early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president was prone to tweeting, “the witching hour.”
7.) Trump apparently had little regard for Priebus. He once instructed then-staff secretary Rob Porter to ignore Priebus, even though Porter reported to the chief of staff, saying that Priebus was “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”
A near-constant subject of Trump’s attacks was allegedly Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
8.) He often mocked national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster behind his back, puffing up his chest and impersonating him, according to the Woodward book. Trump supposedly once said that McMaster dresses in cheap suits “like a beer salesman.”
9.) Trump told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a wealthy investor eight years his senior, “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you doing any more negotiations … You’re past your prime,” reported Woodward, according to The Post.
10.) A near-constant subject of Trump’s attacks was allegedly Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes.
Mocking Sessions’ accent, Trump supposedly added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
Inside the White House, Woodward portrays a president who had little use for convention and was prone to snapping at high-ranking staff members, whom he goaded and belittled on a daily basis, according to The Post.
Defense Secretary James Mattis released a statement attacking the book’s accuracy.
“The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence. While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility …” Mattis said, calling the book a “product of someone’s rich imagination.”
Gen. John Kelly released a statement disputing claims in the book.
Statement from White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly: pic.twitter.com/LUN8cDr3N5
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2018
The president thanked both Mattis and Kelly for their statements of support.