Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Trump denied Sessions 'mentally retarded' jab, but he's said it before

Bob Woodward and Donald Trump Modal Trigger Bob Woodward and Donald Trump Getty Images
Freda Brock | 06 September, 2018, 01:45

After the USA believed the Syrian government had launched another chemical attack in April 2017, Mr Trump told Defence Secretary James Mattis to assassinate President Bashar Assad.

"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.

The book portrays Trump as prone to profane outbursts and impulsive decision-making, painting a picture of chaos that Woodward says amounts to an "administrative coup d'etat" and a "nervous breakdown" of the executive branch.

The White House pushed back hard Tuesday against the extremely unflattering portrayal of President Trump in legendary journalist Bob Woodward's scathing new book about the Trump administration.

Trump's exasperation with Sessions spilled over in one private conversation, according to Woodward, with the president telling former staff secretary Rob Porter: "This guy is mentally retarded".

Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis is quoted explaining to Mr Trump why the USA maintains troops on the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korea's missile activities. But according to Woodward, he quietly saved the South Korea-US trade agreement, known as Korus, when in 2017 he removed a "letter off Trump's desk" that the president planned to sign that would have ordered a US withdrawal. He, along with Trump's national security team, then put together plans for the retaliatory airstrike that the administration eventually carried out. The Republican president questioned whether Woodward, a Washington Post journalist credited with helping drive President Richard Nixon from power in 1974, is an operative for the opposition Democratic party.

"The idea I ever called the president an idiot is not true", the White House chief of staff said, reiterating that he has "an incredibly candid and strong relationship".

Trump also called Sessions a "traitor" for recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe, which is led by special counsel Robert Mueller, and putting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge of oversight.

It was Trump's latest broadside against author Bob Woodward's new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, excerpts of which first appeared Tuesday, with countless anecdotes painting Trump as dangerously ignorant of world affairs and his White House devastatingly beset by internal feuds.

Woodward was denied access to Trump during his research despite repeated requests.

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"Fear", which was published by Simon & Schuster and already sits at No. 1 on Amazon's best-seller list, is due out September 11.

Kelly denied the report at the time, calling it "total B.S". Trump has frequently threatened legal action against others he says have wronged him without following through.

According to Woodward's reporting, Trump stumbles and contradicts himself during the exercise and Dowd is convinced that Trump should never sit down with Justice Department investigators.

The coming release of Woodward's book, according to reports, has had the White House on edge for weeks.

Mr Kelly's predecessor, Reince Priebus, describes the presidential bedroom suite as "the devil's workshop", where Mr Trump fires off intemperate tweets early in the morning and on weekends.

"Let's f--ing kill him! But never once - never - did I think Woodward made it up", Mr Fleischer said.

But even the president's deputy press secretary wouldn't have been able to make that interview happen, because Trump says he never talks to the man. She told reporters at United Nations headquarters that she had been privy to conversations about the Syrian chemical weapons attacks, "and I have not once ever heard the president talk about assassinating Assad".

"Let's kill the [expletive] lot of them", the president reportedly said. "I'm just thinking of the possibilities here". "I probably would have spoken to him if he'd called, if he'd gotten through".

He added, the book said, "We're in Crazytown". It's pointless to try to convince him of anything.

The one he wanted to talk about, though, was Woodward's "Fear", which he said is "a book named after the emotion Trump feels whenever he sees a book".

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