Updated 4:25 p.m. | What did President Trump say and when did he say it? A lot — and his closest aides had a lot to say about him, according to a new book from the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward that the White House on Tuesday brushed off as "nasty stuff" and “fabricated stories.”
“It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” President Donald Trump told the Daily Caller during a Tuesday Oval Office interview. "I probably would have preferred to speak to him, but maybe not. I think it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the book. He wanted to write the book a certain way.
“It’s just nasty stuff," the president said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed the coming book on the Trump presidency, calling it built on made-up accounts from “many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad.”
In the same statement issued Tuesday afternoon, White House chief of staff John Kelly called Woodward’s contention “not true” that he once referred to the president as an “idiot,” describing his relationship with his boss as “incredibly candid and strong.”
“He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total BS,” Kelly said, referring to Trump. “I’m committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”
Woodward’s latest book on a U.S. president is set for public release next week. The Washington Post published excerpts earlier Tuesday.
In one account, the Watergate sleuth, citing multiple sources, contends Kelly once told colleagues the president is “unhinged.”
“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown,” Woodward alleges Kelly said to a small group of staffers. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
The coming book also includes Trump, as he has done on Twitter in recent days, lashing out privately at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling him a “traitor” for choosing to recuse himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia election meddling investigation. But, according to Woodward, Trump was not finished.
“This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner,” he said of the former GOP senator. “He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
The book also claims Trump wanted to “kill” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this year after he defied the U.S. leader by again using chemical weapons.
“Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump allegedly said, according to the longtime Washington journalist. After ending a phone call with the commander in chief, Mattis reportedly told his a top aide to ignore the president’s order. “We’re not going to do any of that,” he said.
And Woodward contends Mattis once corrected Trump when he alleged the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had taken an early release offer from his North Vietnamese captors who tortured him for years.
“No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed,” Mattis is reported to have told him. Trump responded, according to Woodward, “Oh, okay.”
The White House response statement includes a bulleted list of just over 50 self-described “accomplishments,” some of which Trump stressed in a telephone call during which he claimed to Woodward that he would have cooperated for the book had any of his aides whom the journalist contacted requesting an interview bothered to tell him about it.
“We have begun BUILDING THE WALL. Republicans want STRONG BORDERS and NO CRIME,” the White House statement reads, echoing both Trump’s campaign-trail rhetoric and Twitter syntax and capitalization. “Democrats want OPEN BORDERS which equals MASSIVE CRIME.”
The president also, perhaps without realizing it, revealed a telling aspect of how his West Wing works.
"I never spoke to him. Maybe I wasn’t given messages that he called," the president told the conservative news outlet. "I probably would have spoken to him if he’d called, if he’d gotten through. For some reason I didn’t get messages on it.”
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