Trump, Others Dispute Book's Description of Unhinged President - NBC Southern California
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Trump, Others Dispute Book's Description of Unhinged President

Trump decried the quotes and stories in the book on Twitter as "frauds, a con on the public," but Bob Woodward stands by his reporting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New Tell-All Book 'Fear' Details Trump, White House Disarray

    A new tell-all book by journalist Bob Woodward, "Fear: Trump in the White House," portrays a White House in disarray, revealing new details about the president's inner circle, his private opinions of some of his staff and what aides did to keep him from making rash decisions. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018)

    President Donald Trump unloaded Wednesday against an explosive new book from journalist Bob Woodward, labeling the tell-all memoir "a work of fiction" as West Wing staff scrambled to rebut its vivid depictions of White House dysfunction.

    "The book means nothing," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. He said the early release of information from the book this week was designed to interfere with confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "which I don't think it's done."

    Venting for a second day, Trump tweeted that "Fear: Trump in the White House" was the "exact opposite of the fact." He also revisited a call to change libel laws, though he has no authority to do so.

    The book features current and former aides calling the president an "idiot" and a "liar" and depicting him as prone to rash policy decisions that aides worked furiously to derail or stall.

    UN Laughs as Trump Claims US Made Most Strides During His Presidency

    [NATL-NY] UN Laughs as Trump Claims US Made Most Strides During His Presidency

    There was audible laughter in the United Nations General Assembly hall when President Trump said his administration has achieved “more than any other administration in the history of our country," during his address Tuesday. Trump acknowledged as much and responded; “Didn’t expect that reaction but OK.” Read the full story here.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018)

    Within the West Wing, aides increasingly numb to drama still were shaken by the in-depth reporting, which included interviews with numerous aides and copies of internal memos. The White House press office appeared caught off guard when The Washington Post published a story about the book on Tuesday, a week before its Sept. 11 release date. The office was unable to quickly procure an advance copy of the book.

    Key allies have pushed back against the book, which quotes Trump aides disparaging the president's judgment and claiming they plucked papers off his desk to prevent him from withdrawing from a pair of trade agreements. Those issuing denials, at least in part, included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly.

    Underscoring the aggressive response, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted Wednesday that Woodward "got played," adding that "most of these stories are made up from low confidence under performing people that have fallen flat on their faces because they didn't have the talent or intelligence to be successful."

    "I stand by my reporting," Woodward told NBC News, which was provided the book by a source.

    Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders evaded questions Wednesday on Fox News about whether it was a mistake for the communications department not to have Trump sit for an interview with Woodward.

    Trump and Woodward spoke after the book was sent to the publisher. In a transcript and audio of the call released by the Post, Woodward tells Trump he made repeated efforts to get an interview, while a clearly irritated Trump says he would have participated if he had known.

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Rosenstein Chaos, Kavanaugh Accuser

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Rosenstein Chaos, Kavanaugh Accuser

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look at conflicting news reports about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and at the president doubling down on his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018)

    Allies said some of the ire in Trump's orbit was focused on former staffers such as ex-staff secretary Rob Porter and onetime economic adviser Gary Cohn, who are sympathetically portrayed.

    "I don't think Woodward made anything up. It's who he talked to," said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg, adding that Cohn and Porter "look like unsung heroes."

    Trump and aides pushed back on a series of incendiary scenes in the book, including Kelly calling the White House "crazytown," Mattis telling associates Trump had the understanding of "a fifth- or sixth-grader" and Cohn plucking key documents off Trump's desk so he could not sign them.

    Trump took to Twitter to deny the book's claim that he had called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "mentally retarded" and "a dumb Southerner."

    Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff," adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing." Sessions has been a target of the president's wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

    While Trump mentioned libel laws, Sanders said on Fox News that she hadn't spoken with Trump about filing a libel lawsuit. Brian Hauss, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that a threat against libel laws was not "credible."

    Second Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward

    [NATL] Second Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward

    A second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct has come forward, in an interview with The New Yorker. Deborah Ramirez claimed that Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and exposed himself to her at a drinking party when they were both freshmen at Yale, an allegation Kavanaugh denies.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2018)

    "There is no federal libel law for President Trump to bully Congress to change, and the president does not have the authority to change state libel laws," Hauss said.

    The book follows the January release of author Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," which led to a rift between Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist. Bannon spoke with Wolff in terms that were highly critical of the president and his family. Wolff's book attracted attention with its lively anecdotes but suffered from numerous factual inaccuracies.

    Woodward's work also comes weeks after former White House aide and "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman published an expose on her time in the West Wing, including audio recordings of her firing by Kelly and a follow-up conversation with the president in which he claimed to have been unaware of Kelly's decision.

    Woodward has been among the best-selling political writers for more than 40 years, going back to his Watergate classic "All the President's Men," co-written by fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. "Fear" renews a Woodward tradition of releasing a news-making account of a sitting president in the fall of an election season, with previous works including "The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House" and "Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq," about President George W. Bush.

    On Amazon, Woodward's new book was ranked as the top-selling book on Wednesday.