On Tuesday, leaks from veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s expose of the Trump presidency titled “Fear: Trump in the White House,” began to emerge.
They paint a troubling picture, to put it lightly. According to excerpts, top aides hid information from the president and expressed outrage at his lack of expertise.
Here are the top revelations so far.
1. “Very fine people”
In 2017, President Donald Trump addressed the riot of white nationalists chanting ‘Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville by observing that there were “very fine people” on “both sides.”
According to Woodward’s new book, Trump regretted having to denounce them at all.
“That was the biggest f*cking mistake I’ve made,” Trump told advisers shortly after giving a speech that condemned white nationalists. Woodward’s sources also told him Trump called the speech “the worst” he’d ever given.
2. Mueller meltdown
For months, the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has dangled the possibility that the president will sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
According to Woodward’s sources, the president opted out after flubbing a practice session set up by aides. “I don’t really want to testify,” Trump said at the end of a half-in-hour rant against his attorneys. “It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit,” one of his attorneys reportedly warned.
3. On global diplomacy
According to the book, Secretary of Defense James Mattis once said that Trump “acted like — and had the understanding of — a fifth- or sixth-grader.” The president’s poor understanding of global diplomacy occurred during a meeting about troops on the Korean Peninsula.
4. Assad assassination
Following the launch of chemical attacks against his own people, Bashar al-Assad apparently almost became a target of US assassination. According to Woodward’s sources, when the president heard news of the attack, he exploded and ranted “Let’s kill the f*cking lot of them.” Aides convinced him to instead opt for an air strike.
The excerpt reads, in full:
With Trump’s rage and defiance impossible to contain, Cabinet members and other senior officials learned to act discreetly. Woodward describes an alliance among Trump’s traditionalists — including Mattis and Gary Cohn, the president’s former top economic adviser — to stymie what they considered dangerous acts.
“It felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually,” Porter is quoted as saying. “Other times, we would fall over the edge, and an action would be taken.”
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.
5. Preventing WW3
In a bid to thwart a third world war, aides reportedly hid documents from Trump. James Mattis apparently once snapped at Trump “We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” after he was asked why the U.S. is spending money to detect North Korea missile launches.