NEWS
09/09/2018 17:32 BST | Updated 11/09/2018 14:35 BST

Donald Trump Drafted Tweet That Could Have Sparked War With North Korea, Says Bob Woodward

'My God.'

A tweet written by Donald Trump but not sent at the last minute could have sparked war with North Korea, the veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward has claimed. 

In an interview with CBS News, the reporter who exposed the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s teased a section from his upcoming book ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’. 

In an anecdote Woodward said is just one example of the President doing something that could “threaten the national security or the financial security of the country, or of the world”, he recounts how Defence Secretary, James Mattis, explained to Trump why the US pays $3.5 billion (£2.7bn) a year to station 28,000 troops in South Korea, telling the president it was a key line of defence against North Korea to prevent “World War Three.”

Speaking to CBS, Woodward said of the encounter: “[Trump] drafts a tweet saying ’We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea... Family members of the 28,000 people there.”

But the tweet was never sent due to the White House receiving a message from North Korea saying it would regard a pullout of dependents as a sign the US was preparing to attack, according to CBS.

Woodward said: “At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that: ‘My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent’.”

Trump has a tempestuous relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Last year the US president said North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it escalates its nuclear threat, after US media reported the authoritarian state had produced a miniaturised warhead.

The spat escalated, with Kim being branded “little rocket man” by Trump, to which he was called a “dotard” by the North Korean leader.

Against all the odds, denuclearisation talks seemed to be progressing, after the pair met face-to-face in June. 

The latest story from Woodward – famous, with his colleague Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post newspaper for breaking the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon – is just one of many revelations from the book which is due out on 11 September.

Trump has already said the book is “lies”, but the content released so far fits with the picture of a White House in constant chaos already painted by a number of other recent books.

Woodward said he used multiple interviews with key witnesses to write the book, including one subject who was interviewed nine times, resulting in hundreds of pages of transcribed statements.

Last week The New York Times published an op-ed in which an anonymous allegedly senior official described a secret resistance within the White House “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations”, against what the writer described as the “impetuous” and “petty” President. 

The article added: “We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”