Bob Woodward on Donald Trump – Fear and Crazytown

Bob Woodward has been a reporter and editor since 1971. he shot to prominence in 1972 when with Carl Bernstein did a lot of reporting that led to Watergate and the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon.

A number of parallels have been suggested between Nixon and Donald Trump, but there are also significant differences.

Woodward has written a book on Trump called fear. The Washington Post reports: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency

…“Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

This is fairly credible because it’s fairly obvious that this is a fairly plausible explanation for Trump’s statements and behaviour.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said 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.”

Some one has to do it to try and keep the United States on the rails.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop,” and said early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president often set off tweetstorms, were “the witching hour.”

The devil’s workshop has been getting busier and more bizarre as time goes on. One reaction yesterday to ongoing attacks on the US Attorney General: Trump shows why he is unfit for office. From ‘Fear’:

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

Trump has been a particular concern in the volatile Middle East.

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

Other officials manipulated Trump.

Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.

Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides,

“That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

On North Korea:

Woodward recounts repeated episodes of anxiety inside the government over Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat. One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.

On family and advisers:

The president’s family members, while sometimes touted as his key advisers by other Trump chroniclers, are minor players in Woodward’s account, popping up occasionally in the West Wing and vexing adversaries.

Woodward recounts an expletive-laden altercation between Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist.

“You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon screamed at her, telling her that she had to work through Priebus like other aides. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

Ivanka Trump, who had special access to the president and worked around Priebus, replied: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

The Mueller inquiry:

The book vividly recounts the ongoing debate between Trump and his lawyers about whether the president would sit for an interview with Mueller. On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles.

Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.

But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.

“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”

The next morning, Dowd resigned.

There will no doubt be more on Woodward’s book.

But remarkably there is little about Trump that will shock, because he has been such a train wreck that the absurd and the outlandish and the scary have become normal Trump news.

It could be that ‘Fear’ tips Trump over the edge, demanding something be done about his dysfunctional presidency, but the odds are that the White House will stagger on while Trump increasingly obsesses over Twitter. Some oof his recent tweets:

Some will applaud these tirades as Trump telling things as they are, but they are a telling indication of John Kelyu’s observations from having to deal with him:

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.”

50 Comments

  1. Joe Bloggs

     /  September 5, 2018

    Woodward’s book is both shocking and a non-event at the same time: a non-event because it contains nothing particularly new (Woodward’s ‘revelations’ confirm what everyone can see with their own eyes), and shocking because the Republicans turn a blind eye to BLOTUS’ utter incompetency.

    The unindicted co-conspirator in federal crimes is completely unfit for office.

  2. David

     /  September 5, 2018

    Another Trump hating book full of bollocks destined for the bargain bin will follow the usual trajectory. Step 1 author will be serialized in the Trump hating media. Step 2 author will be on all the usual Trump hating TV talk shows. Step 3 book hits the NY Times best seller list prompting fresh round of headlines and stories. Step 4 the inaccuracies in the book start being talked about by the people who were there and the usual outlets wont cover this. Step 5 the partially discredited work of fiction and the author quietly are ignored as its all a bit embarrassing the work was riddled with errors.
    Anyone heard from author Comey lately, no thought not, what about Michael Wolff or the lovely Omarosa.
    Now where is the coverage of other bestsellers like “liars, Leakers and Liberals” or “The Russia Hoax” or “resistance is futile”.
    America saw Trump on The Apprentice watched him making tabloid headlines and voted for him anyway and while the economy is as perky as it has been there is every chance he will be re elected in 2020.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  September 5, 2018

      that’s the same speech you gave us after the last two books were released… you really oughta come up with some new lies.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 5, 2018

        It’s more a case of “rinse and repeat”.
        Kelly and Mattis have already both said their quotes in the book are false. Be interesting if Woodward can back up his assertions better than the other dross that’s been published to date.

  3. Blazer

     /  September 5, 2018

  4. Patzcuaro

     /  September 5, 2018
  5. Joe Bloggs

     /  September 5, 2018

    • Pickled Possum

       /  September 5, 2018

      Morena Joe does s.m.i.l.e. mean
      Spreading Multiculturalism and Inspiring Leadership Through Education

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  September 5, 2018

        Morena PP… love the #sarc

        but I’m going with Sharks, Mountebanks, Idiots, Liars, & Extortioners

    • Looks like MrT with:

      J Sessions
      Iwanka
      M Pense
      Ms Sanders (media)

      🙂

  6. David

     /  September 5, 2018

    Unnamed sources, no transcripts spin and bullshit, this will sink quicker than the others.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  September 5, 2018

      *snort* – David, you’re the same person who used Pulitzer prize-winner and Fox News Sunday Panel regular Bob Woodward’s name in the same sentence as Michael Wolff and Omarfosa – says it all for your desperate spin… and what you leave out Marcy Wheeler covers off…

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 5, 2018

    Kelly denies he ever called Trump an idiot. So is there anything else in the book or is it just fairy tales for suffering Progressives?

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  September 5, 2018

      that’d be the same John Kelly who made proven false claims against Frederica Wilson

      and the same John kelly who defended Rob Porter as a “man of true integrity and honour” after Porter beat up both his ex-wives

      and the same John Kelly who has repeatedly called BLOTUS an idiot on previous occasions

      and the same John Kelly whose job seems now to defend to the death the behaviour of the unindicted co-conspirator to federal crimes who’s temporarily occupying the oval office

      I suggest you get a better, more reliable, less dishonest source, Alan.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 5, 2018

        I suggest you get a brain, Joe. Kelly has said where he stands. Unless Woodward can front with a credible witness that’s where he sits – as a sleazy purveyor of slanderous gossip and lies to be lapped up by the loony Left.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  September 5, 2018

      Kelly is hardly likely to admit calling Trump an idiot.

  8. High Flying Duck

     /  September 5, 2018

    • Blazer

       /  September 5, 2018

      are you providing examples of…’plausible deniability’…again.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 5, 2018

        I’m posting statements made. Believe them or don’t, but they are both definitive denials.
        Woodward said he had recordings and records of all meetings. Should be fairly easy for him to settle who is correct.

        • Blazer

           /  September 5, 2018

          should be easy to sue him if hes making shit up…can’t see that happening..has a reputation as a very credible and careful journalist.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  September 5, 2018

            Sue him for what? There is no law against “making shit up”. He doesn’t defame them.
            They however are calling him out for being a liar – and he needs to refute that.

            • Blazer

               /  September 5, 2018

              no law against ‘making shit up’…about people…gee learn something new every day!

            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 5, 2018

              The 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times vs. Sullivan established that a public figure must prove that not only was a false statement published but that it was published with “actual malice.”

              That means the person or media organization making the false statement knew it was false but published it anyway, or should have known it was false. They must have demonstrated “reckless disregard for the truth”—either they didn’t check, or they didn’t care. This is a huge hurdle to leap.

              So all Woodward needs to say is he was told by an anonymous source that it was said (which could easily be true). Then he is fine, whether the quote is true or not.

              PAINT – BY – NUMBERS…

            • Blazer

               /  September 5, 2018

              I see so someone tells him ..’Trump is a pedophile’ HE PUBLISHES THAT and he is immune from prosecution.

              YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  September 5, 2018

              Way to completely change the argument Blazer.
              Your example is completely different to what has happened here – your usual tactic.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  September 5, 2018

      Those statements would be a hell of a lot more plausible if they’d been issued by Kelly and Mattis.

      But they didn’t come from Kelly or Mattis

      They were tweeted by BLOTUS, who is the biggest liar in the United States and an unindicted co-conspirator in federal crimes.

      And he’s tweeted yet another statement since then, this time purporting to be from sanders and it reads almost exactly like the Mattis and Kelly statements.

      Besides which Woodward has made clear that he recorded every conversation

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  September 5, 2018

          there’s nothing in your link that contradicts what I said. The statement that was “distributed by the white house” was distributed by tweet.

          Besides which Woodward has made clear that he recorded every conversation.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 5, 2018

            Twaddle, Joe:

            Kelly, the White House chief of staff, denied Tuesday an assertion by Woodward that he called the president an idiot. A former lawyer to Trump, John Dowd, denied calling his client a liar. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said she had never heard Trump propose assassinating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mattis disputed belittling the president as acting like a fifth-grader.

            It’s all crap like your usual contributions.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  September 5, 2018

              Look I get that your entire identity is tied up in support of trump… but no-one’s perfect.

              In the meantime you’re an idiot, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 5, 2018

            When Woodward releases his recordings we will know the (lack of) quality of his sources. I’m not holding my breath.

      • David

         /  September 5, 2018

        Joe you are really clutching at straws. The publishers knew this book was a total work of fiction and released it on the first day of the Kavenaugh hearing circus and the daft move by Nike, they are so embarrassed by it they have tried to bury its release.

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 5, 2018

    Meanwhile back in the real world the FBI was always gunning to take down Trump, not the Russians:
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/09/04/papadopouloss-court-docs-provide-evidence-russiagate-setup-get-trump/

  10. Joe Bloggs

     /  September 5, 2018

    Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

    “John, I understand,” Mueller replied.

    – Bob Woodward.

    Dowd argues to Mueller that BLOTUS is such a liar and would look so moronic if the transcript ever leaked that it would constitute a national-security crisis.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 5, 2018

      Dowd was a failure in greasing up to Mueller which Trump was never happy about. That’s why he sacked him and took on Giuliani.

      A sleazer quoting a greazer. Nice.

  11. Joe Bloggs

     /  September 5, 2018

    I wonder how many BLOTUS will throw under the bus: Many? Or all?

    The Post ran a hilarious transcript of Bob Woodward’s short discussion with the unindicted coconspirator. Woodward rebutted the BLOTUS lie that he was never approached for an interview by noting he had asked Kellyanne Conway and Raj Shah about an interview, and BLOTUS immediately doubled down on the lie by accusing them of falling down on the job.

    People like Kushner and Priebus must know the unindicted coconspirator is a major risk for their defenses. Will they sit by passively while BLOTUS tries to blame them for Russian dealings? Have they already taken steps to immunise themselves?

  1. Bob Woodward on Donald Trump – Fear and Crazytown — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition