Bob Woodward, the renowned journalist famed for his acclaimed reporting on the Watergate scandal, has written a new book that lifts the lid on the simmering tensions within the Donald Trump White House.
The tome, ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’, describes the executive branch as being in the midsts of a “nervous breakdown”, according to an excerpt from the book published in the Washington Post on Tuesday.
Administration staffers often have to engage in stealth behaviour to prevent Trump from being impulsive and to minimise disasters that could hurt the president and the country. In some cases, senior aides would reportedly pluck official papers from Trump’s desk before he could sign them.
Trump has said the book is full of “so many lies and phony sources” and has disputed some comments attributed to him.
Here are some of the explosive anecdotes in Woodward’s book on Trump’s first 18 months in office:
1. Donald Trump’s Chief Of Staff Called Him An ‘Idiot’
White House Chief of Staff John F Kelly frequently lost his temper, telling colleagues he thought the president was “unhinged”, according to Woodward.
In one meeting, Kelly reportedly said Trump was “an idiot”, and it was “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,” Kelly said, according to the book.
2. Trump Called His Attorney General ‘Mentally Retarded’
Trump reportedly mocked the accent of his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner.”
Trump added: “He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
3. Trump Regrets Apologising For Defending White Nationalists
After Trump said “both sides” at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally were to blame for the violence that occurred in August 2017, advisers urged him to make another speech condemning white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
According to Woodward, when Trump finally condemned them, he almost immediately told aides: “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given”.
4. Trump’s Practice Mueller Interview Went Disastrously
Trump’s former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, is said to have doubted Trump’s ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Dowd told Trump: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.
“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.”
5. Trump On John McCain
During a dinner with various military leaders, Trump falsely suggested Senator John McCain cowardly took advantage of his father’s military rank to get early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam.
When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis corrected him, Trump just replied: “Oh, OK.”