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Woodward's Book: Aides Stole Papers From Trump's Desk

'Washington Post' has details from the upcoming book, 'Fear'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2018 1:45 PM CDT
Updated Sep 4, 2018 2:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – In late July the Washington Post reported Bob Woodward had secretly been working on a new book on President Trump called Fear, and now the paper is back with details from it. The 448-page book is the product of many interviews conducted on "deep background," meaning Woodward doesn't reveal the source of his information—and it's often fiery information at that. He quotes Chief of Staff John Kelly as describing the president as "unhinged" and "an idiot," allegedly saying in a group meeting that they were all in "Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had." More tidbits:

  • Before Kelly there was Reince Priebus, and Woodward writes that Trump and Priebus each used unflattering terms in regards to the other, with Priebus calling Trump's bedroom "the devil's workshop" (in an apparent reference to the cable-TV watching and tweeting the president does in there) and Trump calling him "a little rat" who "scurries around."
  • Trump was allegedly harsher when it came to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reportedly saying, "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb Southerner. … He couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama."

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  • Woodward describes senior aides as secretly taking papers from Trump's desk to keep them out of his view, and specifically alleges Gary Cohn told an associate he "stole" a letter from the president's desk that would have killed a trade agreement the US had with South Korea. CNN, which also obtained a copy of the book, says this is the book's opening scene, and that Cohn is quoted as saying to the associate, "I wouldn't let him see it. He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country." CNN reports former staff secretary Rob Porter is also described as taking or hiding documents.
  • The Post describes Trump's former personal attorney in the Russia probe as skittish about Trump's ability to testify without perjuring himself, quoting John Dowd as saying, "Don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit."
  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is also described as being skeptical of Trump's abilities, telling "close associates that the president acted like—and had the understanding of—'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'"
  • CNN has Woodward's own words on Trump: an "emotionally overwrought, mercurial, and unpredictable leader."
  • The Post also has the transcript of an 11-minute call between Woodward and Trump on Aug. 14 (the manuscript was already complete) about Woodward's failed efforts to secure an interview with Trump. "Sounds like this is going to be a bad one," Trump says at one point.
  • Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer had this to say on Twitter about Woodward: "I've been on the receiving end of a Bob Woodward book. There were quotes in it I didn't like. But never once - never - did I think Woodward made it up. Anonymous sources have looser lips and may take liberties. But Woodward always plays is [sic] straight. Someone told it to him."
Read the Post's full story, which includes what Trump allegedly considers his "biggest f---ing mistake." The book goes on sale next Tuesday. (Read more Bob Woodward stories.)

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