President Donald Trump’s Achilles’ heel seems to be the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that has resulted in so many indictments. According to Bob Woodward’s book Fear, over and over the president loses his mind over developments.
Wednesday Raw Story revealed the white-hot emotional meltdown Trump had when he heard special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation. The alarming accounts detailed in the Woodward book expose sides of Trump the country has never before witnessed. It also uncovered shocking attitudes held by trusted White House aides and senior military, intelligence and senior staffers.
Here are some of the most scandalous and irrational reactions from the president related to the Russia scandal and Mueller himself.
1. Trump irrationally said he didn’t believe in human CIA sources or informants.
By Jan. 2017, the intelligence community had gathered enough information to create somewhat of a picture of what happened in 2016. Both former FBI Director James Comey and DNI James Clapper tried to do a limited briefing for Trump, but it didn’t go well.
“The CIA believed they had at least six human sources supporting [these] finding[s],” Woodward wrote. “One person with access to the full top secret report later told me he believed that only two were solid. Trump asked if there was anything more.”
“I don’t believe in human sources,” Trump told Clapper. “These are people who have sold their souls and sold out their country.” He wasn’t buying. “I don’t trust human intelligence and these spies.”
2. Trump’s anger about the Russia stories drove former chief of staff Reince Priebus “bananas.”
One of the first “bombs” to go off with the Russia scandal was a Valentine’s Day story on the front page of The New York Times. The allegations stated, “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the elections, according to four current and former American officials.”
Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Priebus the report was “total bullsh*t” and “grossly overstated.”
Meanwhile, the Russia story was playing on cable news all day, every day.
“This is crazy,” Trump said to Priebus, according to Woodward. “We’ve got to stop it. We need to end the story.”
McCabe’s comment gave what Priebus believed to be a “Valentine’s Day present.” He assumed he’d be the hero of the West Wing.
“Can you help me?” Priebus asked. “Could this knockdown of the story be made public?”
“Call me in a couple of hours,” McCabe said. “I will ask around and I’ll let you know. I’ll see what I can do.”
Priebus told Trump McCabe was going to make it happen, but then something stopped him.
“I’m sorry, I can’t,” McCabe said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I tried, but if we start issuing comments on individual stories, we’ll be doing statements every three days.”
He made an important point, this isn’t what the FBI did. They don’t debunk news stories on behalf of an elected leader. McCabe tried to make it happen to no avail. Priebus was furious, demanding to know what could be done, describing it as the president “bleeding out.”
McCabe was ultimately canned by Trump just days prior to scoring his federal pension and being able to retire.
3. When Mueller was officially appointed, Sessions was in the Oval Office and forced to confess he had no idea. Trump was furious because he’d just interviewed Mueller as a possible FBI director.
“Trump related how he learned on May 17 that Mueller had been appointed special counsel by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. It was absolutely outrageous,” wrote Woodward. “He had been in the Oval Office with Sessions when one of the White House lawyers brought the news.”
Sessions told the president, “I didn’t know about this.”
“Well, doesn’t he work for you?” Trump turned to the AG. Because Sessions had recused himself, he couldn’t have knowledge of the appointment.
“Worse, Trump said, he had interviewed Mueller just the day before to come back as FBI director and he had turned him down,” Woodward wrote. “Now Mueller was suddenly in charge.”
“So two times I’m f*cking bushwhacked by the Department of Justice,” Trump raged.
“Third, Trump said that after he fired Comey, the former FBI director had gone on a testifying and leaking crusade to state that Trump asked him to drop the Flynn investigation,” the book said.
“I didn’t do anything,” Trump told lawyer John Dowd. “It’s all bullsh*t. Comey’s a f*cking liar.”
Bonus: Because of the Access Hollywood tape, the Russia scandal completely fell off of the front pages.
In early October, information began to become public about Rusia’s involvement in the election, a series of Russian bots developing social media networks and other things cautioned by seasoned intelligence experts.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson were the two most anxious officials who tried to alert the public to the Russian interference. Together they authored a joint statement.
Clapper, Johnson and the Clinton campaign assumed it would be the major news story that dominated the news over the weekend and into the following week. But at 4:05 p.m. that Friday, David Fahrenthold at The Washington Post broke the story of the “Access Hollywood” tape.
“The Russia story essentially disappeared,” Woodward wrote.
Raw Story will continue to update you as more information from the Woodward book becomes available.