President Donald Trump on Tuesday pushed back against Bob Woodward’s scathing new account of how the White House operates, saying that it’s “just another bad book” and suggesting that Woodward made up some of the content.
“It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” Trump told The Daily Caller in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
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It was the latest rebuke from Trump and his administration on the veteran journalist’s book after excerpts were published earlier in the day. “Fear: Trump in the White House,” which is set to be released on Sept. 11, is the latest book detailing chaos in the West Wing.
Trump said he never spoke to Woodward, adding that “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 told The Daily Caller. “He wanted to write the book a certain way.”
Woodward, who was a lead Washington Post reporter in covering Watergate, the scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, said he reached out to several officials in the White House to set up a meeting, according to The Post.
The paper published audio and a transcript of a call between Woodward and Trump. Woodward in the call said he contacted several Republicans and administration officials, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and deputy press secretary Raj Shah, to try to interview the president for the book.
Trump said that while Graham briefly discussed it with him, he never received any other notices from his staff.
“It’s just nasty stuff. I never spoke to him,” Trump told The Daily Caller. “Maybe I wasn’t given messages that he called. 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.”
White House chief of staff John Kelly once again denied that he ever called President Donald Trump an “idiot,” in a response to published excerpts from the book.
“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true,” Kelly said in a statement released by the White House earlier Tuesday.
Kelly was reported to have lost his temper often and said he thought Trump was “unhinged,” according to The Washington Post, which published excerpts of Woodward’s book. Woodward also said that Kelly said the president was “an idiot.”
“It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything,” Kelly said, according to the excerpt published in The Post. “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.”
NBC News first reported in May that Kelly had referred to Trump as an idiot multiple times, making several remarks “insulting the president’s intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country.”
In the White House statement released on Tuesday, Kelly re-upped an official comment he made in May, calling the accusations “total BS.”
“I spend more time with the President than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship,” he said in the statement. “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.”
Similarly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denied having questioned Trump’s intelligence, after an excerpt from the new book said the president had the understanding of “a fifth- or sixth-grader.”
“The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward‘s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” Mattis said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.“
His comments about Trump were reportedly made after a National Security Council meeting in January in which the president questioned the costs of keeping a U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula. Mattis told Trump that armed forces were necessary “in order to prevent World War III,” according to Woodward’s book.
“In serving in this administration, the idea that I would show contempt for the elected commander in chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the president from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination,” Mattis said in his statement.
The White House added in its statement that Woodward’s book was “nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad.”
“While it is not always pretty, and rare that the press actually covers it, President Trump has broken through the bureaucratic process to deliver unprecedented successes for the American people,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Sometimes it is unconventional, but he always gets results. Democrats and their allies in the media understand the President’s policies are working and with success like this, no one can beat him in 2020 — not even close.”
Gary Cohn, the former National Economic Council director, reportedly removed sensitive papers from Trump’s desk that the president intended to sign to formally withdraw the U.S. from a trade agreement with South Korea, The Post reported. Trump never noticed they were gone, according to the excerpt from Woodward’s book.
Trump told The Daily Caller that the story was “false” and “just made up,” adding that “there was nobody taking anything from me.”
“It could be just made up by the author,” Trump said of Woodward.
On Tuesday night, he directed even harsher comments at the author.
“The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?“