Top staff say Trump is ‘unhinged,’ like a ‘sixth grader’ in Bob Woodward’s new book
The book offers an inside look of the White House through “hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, [and] personal diaries,” according to its official description.
The interviews are “deep background,” meaning while Woodward doesn’t reveal who his sources are, he tells the reader who was in the room, what was said and when it happened. The veteran journalist is best known for working with Carl Bernstein to report on Watergate for the Washington Post, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.
The book is set to be released on Sept. 11. An advance copy of the book given to the Washington Post and CNN published Tuesday shows that some of the U.S.’s top officials see the sitting president as a danger to the nation.
Trump didn’t return a request for comment from Woodward until August, after the manuscript was complete. A transcript of that call was published on the Washington Post.
In the call, Trump said he wasn’t notified about Woodward’s book, but then says Senator Lindsay Graham told him about it briefly. Woodward told Trump he “maximized his effort” to talk to him.
Trump also said a lot of his people “are afraid to come and talk,” or they’re busy, offering a reason for why he didn’t hear about the book.
WATCH: Trump contradicts himself in phone recording with Washington Post’s Bob Woodward over interview request
The White House issued a statement later on Tuesday, decrying the book as “fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees.”
Here are five things we learned from the new book:
1. Staff pull documents from Trump’s desk to stop him signing them
In one of the oddest anecdotes from the book, Trump’s closest aides are said to have pulled documents and hidden papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them.
First, former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn told an associate that he thought a letter he saw on Trump’s desk was dangerous to national security, so he “stole it off his desk.”
“I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s never going to see that document. Got to protect the country,” he said in the book, according to CNN.
Others have used the same tactics, including former staff secretary Rob Porter — one of the people who handled presidential papers — before he quit due to domestic violence accusations.
“A third of my job was trying to react to some of the really dangerous ideas that he had and try to give him reasons to believe that maybe they weren’t such good ideas,” Porter reportedly said.
Defense Secretary James Mattis used similar techniques; the book describes a phone call between Trump and Mattis after Syria’s Bashar al-Assad used a chemical attack on civilians, the Post reports.
Trump reportedly told Mattis, “Let’s f—ing kill him! Let’s go in, let’s kill the f—ing lot of them,” the book says. But Mattis, after agreeing with Trump on the phone, told a senior aide, “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”
Woodward called the action of not letting Trump see the documents “an administrative coup d’état.”
WATCH: Trump discusses Canada, open borders, Keystone and World Cup at fundraiser in North Carolina
2. Top officials call him ‘unhinged’
The book shows how top White House officials reportedly view Trump.
Chief of Staff John Kelly called Trump an “idiot” and “unhinged” according to the Washington Post and CNN.
“He’s an idiot. It’s 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 reportedly said in a small group meeting.
In the White House statement issued Tuesday, Kelly denied the report, saying “The idea I ever called the president an idiot is not true,” while referring to their candid and strong relationship.
After Trump reportedly asked why the U.S. was spending resources in South Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly told associates that Trump “had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.”
Trump’s personal attorney, who tried to convince Trump not to testify in the special investigation into Russian collusion, called Trump a “f—ing idiot”
3. Trump insults his own staff
The book describes multiple situations in which Trump mocks his own staff.
Along with calling former chief of staff Reince Priebis “a little rat,” he apparently pretended to be former national security adviser H.R. McMaster by puffing out his chest and “exaggerating his breathing.”
He also told Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. that he thought Sen. John McCain was a coward for taking an early release from a POW camp in Vietnam because of his father’s rank — even though that isn’t true. (McCain, who died on Aug. 25, denied an offer to be released early.)
He reportedly mocked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ southern accent and called him “mentally retarded” and a “dumb southerner.”
4. The Russia issue
The book recounts how Trump’s lawyers tried to prepare him for an interview with Robert Mueller, who’s investigating ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.
During a practice session, lawyer John Dowd said he saw the “full nightmare” of what the interview could be, CNN reports.
“Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit,” Dowd reportedly told Trump.
But Trump insisted: “I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump said, according to the book.
The next day Dowd resigned, as the Washington Post pointed out.
Dowd also reportedly went to Mueller and reenacted the interview, saying, “He just made something up. That’s his nature.”
5. Trump calls himself the ‘Ernest Hemingway’ of Twitter
The book also describes Trump’s thoughts on Twitter, according to CNN.
Woodward writes that while national security officials warned Trump that Twitter could get the U.S. into a war, they were unable to stop him from tweeting.
Trump also reportedly asked for printouts of his own tweets so he could study which ones were the most shocking.
And he was apparently disappointed when Twitter upped its character limit to 280 characters from 140. He said, “It’s a bit of a shame because I was the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”
Read the full statement from the White House on Bob Woodward’s book:
From The White House:
“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. 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.”
-Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
From General Kelly:
“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true. As I stated back in May and still firmly stand behind: “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.”
-Chief of Staff, General John Kelly
The statement also contained a list of accomplishments by Trump.