Trump, others dispute book’s description of unhinged leader
By Zeke Miller and
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted Wednesday that he’s “the exact opposite” of Bob Woodward’s portrayal of him in a new book that has set off a firestorm in the White House with its descriptions of current and former aides calling Trump an “idiot” and a “liar.”
Trump complained on Twitter that people can “get away with” such depictions and again suggested changing libel laws. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News she hasn’t spoken with Trump about filing any libel lawsuit.
The tell-all book by a reporter who helped bring down President Richard Nixon quotes Trump aides disparaging the president’s judgment and claiming they plucked papers off his desk to prevent him from withdrawing from a pair of trade agreements.
Woodward’s book is the latest to throw the Trump administration into damage-control mode with explosive anecdotes and concerns about the commander in chief. The Associated Press obtained a copy of “Fear: Trump in the White House” on Tuesday, a week before its official release.
Trump decried the quotes and stories in the book on Twitter as “frauds, a con on the public,” adding that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly had denied uttering quoted criticisms of the president in the book. On accounts in the book that senior aides snatched sensitive documents off his desk to keep him from making impulsive decisions, Trump told The Daily Caller, “There was nobody taking anything from me.”
In a statement to The Post, Woodward said, “I stand by my reporting.”
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Sanders said the book did not accurately depict the administration, adding that it had been “pretty widely pushed back on.”
On Twitter Wednesday, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed back on his portrayal in the book, saying the “incident about me entirely false” and Woodward “never called me.”
In the book, Trump blasts Giuliani after he appears on Sunday talk shows to defend then-candidate Trump in the wake of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. Calling Giuliani a “baby,” Trump says: “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?”
Late Tuesday, Trump was on Twitter denying the book’s claim that he had called Attorney General Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.”
Trump insisted he “never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff,” adding that “being a southerner is a GREAT thing.” Sessions has been a target of the president’s wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
The publication of Woodward’s book has been anticipated for weeks, and current and former White House officials estimate that nearly all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist. 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.”
The book quotes 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 Kelly denied Tuesday.
The book says Trump’s former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, doubted the president’s ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with Trump’s campaign. Dowd, who stepped down in January, resigned after the mock interview, the book says.
“Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit,” Dowd is quoted telling the president.
Dowd, in a statement Tuesday, said “no so-called ‘practice session’ or ‘re-enactment'” took place and denied saying Trump was likely to end up in an orange jumpsuit.