President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening amped up his attacks on veteran journalist Bob Woodward, baselessly suggesting he is a Democratic operative because his new book portrays chaos and dysfunction inside the White House.
Hours after The Washington Post first reported several key incidents from Woodward’s book, “Fear,” the administration mounted a vigorous string of public denials, with statements from top advisers — White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — as well as from Trump’s former personal attorney John Dowd.
Mattis called the book “fiction,” and Sanders denounced the tome in a statement as “nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees” without disputing any of the specifics that have been reported in excerpts.
White House officials, for instance, recycled a denial from Kelly back in spring — the last time reports emerged of him calling the president an “idiot” — in which he claimed that he and Trump have “an incredibly candid and strong relationship” and that the “idiot” anecdote was “total BS.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the White House was still scrambling to procure a copy of Woodward’s book, and several White House aides asked reporters if they were mentioned in “Fear” — and, if so, what they were quoted as saying.
Behind the scenes, White House aides and others in Trump’s orbit largely steeled themselves for what they privately predicted would be the president’s all-but-inevitable explosion, which they predicted would occur as cable news channels switched from coverage of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to juicy tidbits from the book.