After the hyped up releases of Trump tell-alls from writer Michael Wolff and former administration staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman, there’s another — perhaps more substantive — book on the horizon, Bob Woodward’s Fear. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the book ahead of its publication and shared some of its most striking details — such as the claim that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly thinks Donald Trump is an unhinged idiot.
At one small meeting that Woodward got info on, Kelly told those in attendance of Trump:
‘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’s quip that he doesn’t “even know why any of us are here” touches on the Trump-centric way in which the current presidential administration runs. Repeatedly, Trump has sought to impose his own personal will above longstanding diplomatic, economic, and overall political norms.
For instance, Woodward explains, at one private White House meeting, Trump questioned why the United States has a military presence on the Korean peninsula. That presence allows the U.S. to detect a North Korean missile launch in only seven seconds, and Woodward says that Defense Secretary James Mattis told the president:
‘We’re doing it to prevent World War III.’
Woodward continues, explaining that after the president left the meeting:
‘Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — “a fifth- or sixth-grader.”‘
Mattis’ reported private admonitions about the importance of a U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula didn’t stop the president from seeking to undercut it. In connection to his widely watched summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, Trump asserted that the U.S. would stop joint military exercises with the South Koreans, offering an American concession in the face of little positive movement from the North Korean government.
He’s sought to undercut the American position in the world — and the position of the top officials closest to him — in many contexts other than that one, including some Woodward newly reports on in his new book.
According to the journalist, Trump said of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
‘This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner… He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.’
Reporting about that insult is hardly difficult to believe, considering just how many times Trump has gone after Sessions very publicly. Just this week, he claimed Sessions was playing into Democrats’ hands because the Justice Department charged two credibly accused criminals with crimes.
Other notable behind the scenes incidents Woodward reports on include the president’s meltdown after Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on Syrian civilians last year. (He did so again this year.)
At the time, Trump lashed out while on the phone with Secretary Mattis, ranting:
‘Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them.’
The U.S., needless to say, did not launch an assassination attempt on the leader.
The incident is an example among the many Woodward reports on of top Trump aides seeking to restrain the volatile president.
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