Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, is due out on September 11th, and this book is not f—king around. Woodward chronicles the Trump presidency based on hundreds of hours of interviews with those inside the White House — witnesses and participants — who acted themselves as sources on “deep background,” and the picture that is painted of the White House is one of chaos, backstabbing, and incompetence. The Washington Post has seen the book and offers a lot of quotes from it, and 63 days before the midterms, it’s probably not going to help matters or the President’s mood.
The Presidential tweets on this are going to be something else, but here’s a quick look at what the Post recounts from Woodward’s book:
— Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Trump, after a meeting about North Korea: “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’”
— On testifying for Mueller: “This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”
— Also Mattis: “Secretaries of defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for.”
— “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was ‘unhinged,’ Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: ‘He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. 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.’”
— Cohn drafted his resignation letter after Trump’s Charlottesville speech, but Trump told Cohn that he’d be a “traitor” if he quit. John Kelly, who privately agreed with Gary Cohn, said that “If that was me, I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up [Trump’s] ass six different times.”
— Trump on former Chief of Staff Reince Preibus: He’s “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”
— Trump on his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: “I don’t trust you. I don’t want you doing any more negotiations. … You’re past your prime.”
— Trump on Jeff Sessions: He’s a “traitor,” and “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
— Gary Cohn, Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor:
Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.
Cohn did the same with a piece of paper on Trump’s desk withdrawing the United States from NAFTA.
— Here’s John Dowd to Robert Mueller on Trump testifying, again:
Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”
“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.
Later that month, Dowd told Trump: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.
“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”
The next morning, Dowd resigned.
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