Like it or not, journalist Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House is here. In the work, the longtime respected journalist delivers a brutal indictment of a chaotic Trump administration where, somehow, things are proceeding even more chaotically on the inside than could be perhaps guessed from looking at the outside. Part of that chaos involves the Trump team’s response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry, which lawyer John Dowd abandoned earlier this year, leaving his position on the president’s legal team.
Before he left, though — in a situation that’s been dissected and oft-repeated at this point — he staged a mock interview session with the president. Potential presidential testimony had been — and remains — a focal point of the White House side of the probe, so Dowd wanted to at least try to prepare.
It didn’t work. This week while appearing on The Late Show to promote his new book, Woodward explained to host Stephen Colbert of the situation:
‘Trump goes ballistic, makes things up, starts screaming. Dowd thought had he been Mueller, he would have been fired right on the spot… ‘You can’t testify. You are disabled.’ I mean, imagine the lawyer- your lawyer, telling you you’re disabled. And you can’t testify because you can’t tell the truth. You just make things up!’
As Colbert then noted, Woodward explains in his book’s account of that situation that Dowd couldn’t bring himself to tell the president:
‘You’re a fucking liar.’
The popular late night host joked that Woodward had buried the lede by using that as Fear‘s final anecdote.
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) September 11, 2018
The book hits a White House this week that remains in disarray. Despite the fact that Trump thrills himself by claiming his administration runs like a well-oiled machine, this week — and this week alone! — his vice president ended up offering to take a lie detector test to prove that he hadn’t written an anonymous piece in The New York Times that reveals a secret — non-left wing — “resistance” inside the White House.
That’s not a trademark of a well-oiled machine, no matter what Trump says.
The administration has fought back against the op-ed through means including suggesting criminal prosecution, although it remains unclear if they have an idea of the law the author supposedly broke.
As for Woodward’s book, they’ve sought to discredit it as fiction — even though the one million printed copies of Fear to be doled out as orders keep coming in show that there’s not exactly a huge swath of the population on board with that assessment. No half-hearted denials from senior administration officials will undo the impact Woodward’s reporting on comments from them and many others has.
An array of his claims are very well backed up by what’s publicly obvious about the Trump administration. What even moderately self-respecting lawyer wouldn’t lose it in the face of a client who’s lied thousands and thousands of times in the past year and a half possibly appearing for testimony under oath? Trump lies publicly as if it’s nothing — so the only logical extension of that is that he lies behind the scenes, too — which will get him in trouble should he ever appear before Mueller.
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