If you thought Michael Wolff’s “Fire And Fury” painted a disconcerting picture of the Trump presidency, wait until you get your hands on Bob Woodward’s “Fear“, which will be released on September 11 (appropriately).
Early this year, Wolff’s (probably exaggerated) account of the tumultuous environment inside the White House and within Trump’s inner circle rocked the administration and ultimately prompted the President to publicly deride former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was quoted by Wolff as expressing consternation at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Read more on the fallout from “Fire and Fury”
Wolff’s account, while fantastical, was by no means out of step with what everyone already knew about the Trump administration. The President has, sometimes purposefully and sometimes by accident, created a chaotic, toxic environment at 1600 Penn and everyone around him is concerned not only for the country, but for the entire world.
Well now, Woodward is set to underscore that assessment in dramatic fashion. According to the Washington Post, which reviewed the 448-page “Fear”, Trump is a whirling dervish who descends further into madness with each passing week.
Apparently, John Dowd (who resigned from Trump’s legal team in March and who attempted to fall on his sword for Trump in December when the President appeared to admit to obstruction on Twitter), held a mock Mueller interview with Trump on January 27 in order to demonstrate just why it’s a bad idea to sit with the special counsel.
According to Woodward, Trump didn’t last long against Dowd, who was playing Mueller. Here’s WaPo:
In the White House residence, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.
“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”
As a reminder, Trump’s attorneys and confidants have been wary of allowing the President to sit for an interview with the special counsel because, just to be brutally honest, Trump is a moron, is prone to hyperbole, exaggeration, and in some cases, outright lying. That sets up the potential for him to accidentally commit a crime during the interview in addition to the crimes he’s being interviewed about, a comically ridiculous situation befitting of a comically ridiculous president.
The Post goes on to say that Woodward describes an ongoing effort on the part of the President’s advisors and aides to literally steal papers from his desk in order to “prevent disasters.”
Woodward describes a January 19 National Security Counsel meeting regarding the U.S. presence on the Korean peninsula during which Trump didn’t seem to understand why America cared about the region. After the meeting, Jim Mattis reportedly said this:
The president has the understanding of a fifth- or sixth-grader.
That would hardly be the first time a senior official has questioned Trump’s intelligence. Last year, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called the President a “moron” after Trump called for a “tenfold” increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal because he (Trump) didn’t like the look of a downward-sloping line on a chart he was shown.
In November, multiple reports suggested that former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster once called Trump an “idiot” with “the intelligence of a kindergartner” at a dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz.
Woodward goes on to describe John Kelly as a man at wit’s end who has seemingly resigned himself to the fact that there isn’t anything anyone can do. Here’s what Kelly reportedly said after one meeting:
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.
Reince Priebus is said to have referred to Trump’s bedroom as “the devil’s workshop,” and dubbed Sunday evenings (when Trump often unleashes tweets aimed at rivals, real and imagined), “the witching hour.”
Woodward also recounts things Trump has said about his cabinet and others within his orbit. Unsurprisingly, Jeff Sessions comes up. Here’s what Trump reportedly said about Sessions while mocking the Attorney General’s accent in a conversation with Rob Porter:
[He’s a] traitor. This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.
In one meeting with Mattis, Trump is said to have referred to now deceased Senator John McCain as a “coward”.
After the chemical weapons attack in 2017 that prompted a volley of U.S. missiles aimed at Syrian regime targets, Trump reportedly told Mattis the following about his “strategy” for Bashar al-Assad:
Let’s f*%king kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f*%king lot of them.
And it goes on, and on and on.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about all of this is that Congress is surely aware of it – and much, much more.
Additionally, Mike Pence and a majority of the Cabinet could remove Trump on the contention he’s “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
Why they haven’t done that given all of the above is anyone’s guess.