Trump dismisses Woodward book as ‘joke’

Published September 11, 2018, 11:31 AM

by Francine Ciasico

By Agence France-Presse

US President Donald Trump dismissed journalist Bob Woodward’s bombshell book as a “joke” Monday, a day before readers get their first full look at his detailed account of a White House in disarray.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 03, 2017,  Bob Woodward arrives for meetings with US President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. Bob Woodward's new book -- "Fear: Trump in the White House" -- the latest in a series by Woodward dealing with US presidencies, comes out on September 11, 2018. The book "reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside Donald Trump's White House and how the president makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies," said publisher Simon & Schuster. Woodward and Carl Bernstein led The Washington Post reporting team that investigated the 1972 break-in at the Watergate hotel, which eventually led back to the White House, prompting a scandal that forced Nixon to resign in 1974. (AFP PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 03, 2017, Bob Woodward arrives for meetings with US President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. (AFP PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Fear: Trump in the White House” hits US bookstores on Tuesday after a weeklong buildup, with published excerpts, leaks and interviews that portray Trump as dangerously erratic and uninformed.

On the eve of its release, the president took to Twitter with a preemptive round of attacks, denouncing as fiction Woodward’s reconstruction of scenes in which frustrated aides scramble to contain the mercurial president’s reckless impulses.

“The Woodward book is a Joke – just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources,” Trump said in the first of a series of tweets.

“Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!”

Woodward is a famed chronicler of presidents, best known for his revelations in the Watergate scandal that proved the undoing of Richard Nixon in 1974.

Trump is quoted in “Fear” brutally insulting members of his own cabinet, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “mentally retarded” and former chief of staff Reince Priebus as a “little rat.”

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in turn, is quoted as saying the president has the mental capacity of a “fifth or sixth grader,” while Chief of Staff John Kelly is quoted as calling Trump “an idiot.”

“We are in Crazytown,” Kelly tells a small group of confidants, according to Woodward. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Mattis, Kelly and other senior aides have denied making the remarks.

“I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up,” Trump said last week, calling the book a “scam.”

The book’s damning picture was reinforced last week with the publication of a New York Times op-ed written by an anonymous senior Trump administration official who portrayed fellow aides struggling to limit the potentially disastrous consequences of some of the president’s rash decisions.

Infuriated by the unsigned missive, Trump on Friday urged Sessions to launch an investigation to uncover the author’s identity, citing “national security” concerns.

The Times argued that such a probe would be a “blatant abuse of government power.”

But on Monday, the White House reasserted its interest in studying whether any laws were broken by the explosive op-ed’s author.

“It’s (up to) the Department of Justice to make that determination and we’re asking them to look into it,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“If that individual is in meetings where national security is being discussed or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the executive branch, that would certainly be problematic.”