This week, longtime journalist Bob Woodward rocked the U.S. political scene with his new book, Fear. The work chronicles the behind the scenes operations of the Trump White House. Considering what the book reveals about the nation’s chief executive and those around him, the Trump team has sought to press back against the book — but they’ve got no basis to do so, the journalist has explained. He’s revealed that pretty much every interview underlying content in the book was recorded and/or supplemented in some form with tangible evidence, including audio recordings and documents.
He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
‘When somebody looks at this in 20 or 30 or 40 years, boxes of recordings and documents, they will see that this was very carefully done. I can argue with a straight face that an ardent Trump supporter would read this and have to pause. Because whether you like Trump or don’t like Trump, it’s a management issue.’
That management issue includes aspects like the president veering so far off the rails that his top officials turn against him. Woodward has reported, for instance, that Defense Secretary James Mattis exclaimed in desperation at one point that the president had the understanding of a grade schooler. That alleged outburst came after Trump questioned why the U.S. maintains a military presence on the Korean peninsula.
The “management issue” has serious real world implications. Despite Mattis’s reported behind-the-scenes attempts to reassure the president of the necessity of the U.S. presence around Korea — casting it as preventing World War III — Trump cancelled joint military exercises that had been planned with the South Koreans for this fall.
The president offered that concession for the North Koreans in the face of little to no movement from the dictatorship. They’re still armed with nuclear weapons. Trump has pointed to the fact that the time is growing in between test launches, but they’ve gone years without one in the past, so his beloved months-long window is meaningless.
Still, he claims he’s doing a great job. Besides his explicit and direct assertions to that effect in contexts like the Hurricane Maria response, he’s cast the Woodward book as a work of fiction.
This week, for instance, he exclaimed on Twitter:
‘The Woodward book is a Joke – just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!’
As Woodward explained to Cooper, though, the president’s claim that claims in Woodward’s book have already been definitively disproved is wrong. The journalist who helped break the story of the Watergate scandal has got the tapes, and they’re not going away — and substantive, unlike some other recently circulated tapes from a certain former White House staffer.
The administration wouldn’t even definitively assert they would not bring a legal challenge against Woodward, but they’re not going to be able to hide under their claims of fake news forever. The midterms just keep getting closer with new generic Congressional ballot polling placing Democrats well over ten percent ahead of Republicans.
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