Published 7:19 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
More than four decades ago, Bob Woodward’s reporting helped shine light on a scandal that ended a presidency.
If his reporting holds true again, this time in a new 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” there’s another presidency hanging in the balance.
More: Woodward book 'Fear' reflects chaos in White House, says Kelly called Trump an 'idiot'
Related: Trump calls Woodward's book 'a con on the public'; Kelly denies calling president an 'idiot'
The West Wing is in a state of dysfunction, maybe even disrepair. President Donald Trump’s aides and top members of his administration don’t trust him. Trump is a demeaning and increasingly paranoid tyrant with the maturity level of a grade-schooler. National security is at risk.
Idiot. Liar. Dumb. Little rat. Little baby.
The few excerpts leaked Tuesday ahead of the Sept. 11 release of Woodward’s book were loaded with insults — some allegedly made by Trump and others reportedly made about him.
The White House is simply a mess … if you believe what’s in the book, that is.
“So many lies and phony sources,” Trump wrote Tuesday night on Twitter, labeling the book as “a con on the public.” He also questioned whether Woodward was a Democratic operative who timed the book’s release to influence the coming midterm elections.
Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders all disputed Woodward’s reporting, with Mattis calling the book “a product of someone’s rich imagination” while questioning the credibility of Woodward’s anonymous sources.
Woodward’s response, via The Washington Post: “I stand by my reporting.”
Here are the five most explosive claims so far from Woodward’s book:
1. ‘I stole it off his desk’
To protect Trump from himself and the world from Trump, Woodward reports that some of the president’s top aides swiped documents from his desk or hid paperwork to stall potential action.
In the book’s opening scene, Woodward writes that former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn stole a draft letter from Trump’s desk that would have withdrawn the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea, a decision that aides feared could jeopardize a national security program with the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within seconds.
“I stole it off his desk,” Cohn told an associate, according to Woodward’s reporting. “I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s never going to see that document. Got to protect the country.”
Other aides, including former staff secretary Rob Porter, employed similar tactics, Woodward reported.
2. ‘It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit’
In the book, Woodward reports that Trump’s former defense attorney, John Dowd, put Trump through a mock interview to prepare him for possible testimony before Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.
Why? He didn’t believe the president could tell the truth, according to Woodward’s reporting.
When Trump didn’t perform well, Dowd allegedly told him, “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jump suit.”
“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told him, according to the book.
After Dowd disagreed, Trump lost his temper, called the Russian investigation “a goddamn hoax,” and said, "I don't really want to testify."
On Tuesday, though, Dowd denied that he questioned Trump’s truthfulness and didn’t make the “orange jumpsuit” comment.
3. ‘He’s an idiot’
For the second time in a year-plus as chief of staff, Kelly is reported to have called Trump an “idiot.” He has denied both accounts.
In his book, Woodward reports Kelly also described the president as “unhinged” and told staffers in his office working for Trump was “the worst job I’ve ever had.”
“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying.
In response to Woodward’s book on Tuesday, Kelly said in a statement, “The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true, in fact it’s exactly the opposite,” and added, “This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”
4. ‘The guy is mentally retarded’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a frequent punching bag for Trump over the past year — and his job is rumored to be in jeopardy following the November midterms — was singled out in the book as one of the president’s targets for humiliation.
“This guy is mentally retarded,” Trump said of Sessions, according to Woodward’s book. In another instance, Trump described him as a “dumb Southerner” and mocked his accent, Woodward reported.
Not true, Trump tweeted Tuesday night.
“I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a Southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!” the president wrote.
Also in his book, Woodward writes that Trump bad-mouthed Reince Priebus, calling his former chief of staff “a little rat;” insulted the wardrobe of former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, suggesting he dressed “like a beer salesman;” told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that he was “past his prime;” and once questioned the manhood of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now the face of his legal team.
5. ‘That was the biggest f---ing mistake I’ve made’
Following the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a white nationalist rally that was stained by the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, Trump faced immediate backlash when said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
In his book, Woodward reports that White House staffers, including then-staff secretary Rob Porter, wrote a second speech for Trump and convinced him to clarify his remarks.
“I don't know about this. ... This doesn’t feel right to me,” Trump is reported as saying in the book.
But, Trump relented and, two days later in a televised speech, denounced racism. Shortly after, according to Woodward’s reporting, Trump became enraged when Fox News questioned his “course correction.”
“That was the biggest f---ing mistake I’ve made,” Trump told Porter, according to the book. “You never make those concessions. You never apologize. I didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. Why look weak?"
He added, “I can’t believe I got forced to do that. That’s the worst speech I’ve ever given. I’m never going to do anything like that again.”