President Donald Trump’s White House is mired in a perpetual “nervous breakdown” with staff battling to rein in the worst impulses of an angry, paranoid leader, according to an explosive new book by veteran reporter Bob Woodward.
Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews, the respected White House chronicler describes a coalition of like-minded aides plotting to prevent the US president from destroying the world trade system, undermining national security and sparking wars.
While Woodward’s is not the first unflattering investigation into Trump’s White House, it carries particular weight coming from the man who together with Carl Bernstein authored the Watergate expose that brought down Richard Nixon.
Trump’s White House is described as having undergone “no less than an administrative coup d’etat”, according to The Washington Post where Woodward is an associate editor and which received an advance copy of the 448-page book entitled Fear: Trump in the White House, set for release on Sept 11.
The White House hit back at “fabricated stories” as the long-awaited book piled fresh pressure on a president besieged by multiple investigations and a looming election that could damage his Republican Party.
Trump claimed that the quotes in Woodward’s book were “made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes”.
“Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?” he added, after tweeting earlier statements by Defence Secretary James Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders refuting the quoted statements as false.
Mattis and former economic adviser Gary Cohn are cited among the aides actively circumventing Trump’s orders and even stealing documents off his desk.
President Donald Trump responded to the book by suggesting that Congress change US libel laws.
“Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws.”
After the April 2017 chemical attack blamed on Bashar Al Assad, Woodward claims Trump called the Pentagon chief to press for the Syrian leader’s assassination. “Let’s … kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f… lot of them,” Trump reportedly told him.
Mattis agreed to take action — but after hanging up ordered “more measured” steps against Syria, a punitive air strike.
But Donald Trump denied having ever discussed such an idea. “That was never even contemplated,” he told reporters in the Oval Office as he met the emir of Kuwait.