Washington – Three top aides have come to the defence of Donald Trump after Bob Woodward characterized the White House as being in chaos.
In a new book, Woodward, well-known for his Watergate era exploits that brought down Richard Nixon, details alleged attempts by top staff to thwart the president in his whimsical and often angry decisions including an order to kill Syrian President Bashar Assad.
‘Fear: Trump in the White House’ makes explosive claims that suggest aides have tried to protect the US by hiding information from their boss; of Trump disparaging his top staff, calling them names and playing top members of his administration against each other.
Woodward alleges that White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly described Trump as an “idiot,” while defence minister James Mattis is alleged to have said Trump’s understanding of the Korean conflict is akin to that of a primary school kid.
While the episodes related in the book are not sourced, Woodward is backed by his solid reputation as an impeccable investigative reporter for over 40 years. He has said the book is based on months of “deep” interviews with dozens of people who had access to embarrassing or dangerous moments in Trump’s chaotic presidency.
But the book’s claims have been “refuted” – as Trump said – by Kelly, Mattis and press secretary Sarah Sanders.
All three top aides issued strong denials of the characterizations contained in the book that Trump has said contains fraudulent quotes.
“The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly,” said Trump in a series of Tweets.
“Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing,?” Trump added.
In another tweet, Trump denied calling attorney-general Jeff Sessions a mentally retarded southerner.
Mattis, who is in India for talks with counterparts, said in a statement: “The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.”
“While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility.
“While responsible policy making in the real world is inherently messy, it is also essential that we challenge every assumption to find the best option. I embrace such debate and the open competition of ideas,” said Mattis.
“In just over a year, these robust discussions and deliberations have yielded significant results, including the near annihilation of the ISIS caliphate, unprecedented burden sharing by our NATO allies, the repatriation of U.S. service member remains from North Korea, and the improved readiness of our armed forces. Our defense policies have also enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.”
“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,” he said.
Kelly also countered the suggestion that he had called the president an idiot.
“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true, in fact it’s exactly the opposite. As I stated back in May and still firmly stand behind,” he said.
“I spend more time with the President than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total BS. 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,” said the chief of staff.
Sanders also countered that the book contains fabricated stories, gathered from disgruntled former staffers.
“This book is 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,” she said.
“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.”
The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018