President Trump and his surrogates ramped up their pushback Wednesday against Watergate legend Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, “Fear,” which paints the White House as chaotic and filled with staffers overwhelmed by infighting and animosity.
Trump called the book "total fiction," "boring" and "untrue" in a series of tweets on Wedneday. At the same time, he seemed to refer to the numerous anecdotes of him insulting those who work for him by explaining that he's "tough as hell" and that's how he gets things done.
“Almost everyone agrees that my Administration has done more in less than two years than any other Administration in the history of our Country,” Trump tweeted. “I’m tough as hell on people & if I weren’t, nothing would get done. Also, I question everybody & everything-which is why I got elected!”
Earlier on Wednesday, the president tweeted another jab at Woodward, “Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”
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 staffers second-guessing the president and bad-mouthing him behind closed doors.
“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and ex-Trump attorney John Dowd have also refuted portions of the book, while White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shaj said that some people referenced in the details “have raised questions about the veracity of things that are being reported.”
One section claimed John Kelly 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.”
On Tuesday, Kelly said that the account was false.
According to the book, Trump also allegedly called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe.
“This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama,” Trump reportedly said.
Trump was not interviewed for the book, despite what Woodward said were repeated attempts to contact him. Trump called Woodward in August and told him that his staff hadn’t informed him of the request and expressed concern that the book would be “inaccurate.”
The Post reported that Trump is “furious” about the book and is hesitant to trust people around him. He is reportedly “frustrated’ with counselor Kellyanne Conway because she didn’t arrange an interview between the president and Woodward – as he feels he could have helped shape the book in a more positive light, according to the Post.
“The president urged senior White House aides and Cabinet members to speak up if they disagreed with how they were quoted in the book,” Post reporters Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey wrote.
The Post published a transcript of a phone call that Trump had with Woodward on Aug. 14, 2018 – after the book was finished. Woodward told the president he asked “about six people,” including Conway, to arrange an interview with Trump for the book to no avail.
“They didn’t tell me,” Trump told Woodward. “It’s really too bad… I would have loved to have spoken to you.”
Trump has attacked a handful of unflattering books in recent months, such as Michael Wollf’s “Fire and Fury” and Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s “Unhinged,” but Woodward brings a new level of credibility to the situation.
Once backlash started pouring in, Woodward offered a brief statement to the Post: “I stand by my reporting.”
Woodward’s “Fear” is to be released on Sept. 11.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.