President Trump on Tuesday asked whether Bob Woodward could be “a Dem operative” after an early copy of the veteran reporter’s soon-to-be-released book portrayed a chaotic White House plagued by infighting and bad-mouthing against the president.
Labeling details of the book “a con on the public” with “made up” quotes, the president also seemingly questioned the “timing” of the book reveal.
“The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly,” Trump tweeted. “Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?”
An early copy of The Washington Post associate editor’s book was obtained by The Washington Post. According to the Post, it portrays a Trump White House that’s filled with second-guessing by members of Trump’s staff, who repeatedly bad-mouth him behind closed doors.
The book is to be released on Sept. 11.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shaj was asked about the book during an interview on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” Tuesday night and said that although he has yet to read it due to his focus on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, “what’s been reported about it is not the White House that I’ve seen.”
He also said that some people referenced in the details “have raised questions about the veracity of things that are being reported in that book.”
A number of other officials from the president’s staff – including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, both of whom were specifically referenced in the book – have come out against it.
The book claims that Mattis told associates of the president that he had the understanding of “a fifth- or sixth-grader,” according to The Washington Post. After Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on Syrians in April 2017, Trump is said to have demanded Mattis launch an assassination attempt.
“Let’s f---ing kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f---ing lot of them,” Trump reportedly said. But Mattis reportedly told an aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Mattis said, in part, that “the contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.”
Separately in the book, Kelly is reported to have frequently lost his temper, and described Trump as “an idiot.”
“It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown,” Kelly said, according to Woodward. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
But Kelly also came out against the book, asserting that the comments attributed to him were “not true.”
“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true," he said in a statement. "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.'"
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.