Credit to: A New Book on the White House Reveals That Trump’s Employees Think He’s an “Idiot” BY: LUKE DARBY
For better or worse, there’s now an entire industry of books about Donald Trump. Some of them are salacious; some are thoughtful; some, like James Comey’s, are barely about Trump but get bought anyway.
One thing that’s missing, though, is a book by a seasoned reporter who’s known for being above melodrama, and famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward may have delivered that with his new book, Fear. The Washington Post, where Woodward has long worked and now serves as an editor, has put out a sort of preview, teasing plenty of dramatic elements.
There are lots of shocking details in Woodward’s account, which he developed through deep background reporting with anonymous sources, diaries, and memos. Take, for example, the story that Trump only condemned the murderous white nationalist rally in Charlottesville after his advisers basically forced him to, and promptly afterward he said, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made,” adding that it was the “worst speech I’ve ever given.”
Equally distressing is the accusation that Trump’s aides are constantly trying to distract or undermine him in an effort to keep the world from falling apart. One of the most egregious details is Woodward’s claim that aides have regularly taken documents off of Trump’s desk so he wouldn’t see or sign them. This is exactly what former economic adviser Gary Cohn did with the draft of a letter that Trump demanded that announced U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA. Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly thinks Trump’s an “idiot.” And his relationship with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is, at best, strained.
Mattis has even allegedly refused direct orders from the president. After Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in April 2017, Trump reportedly told Mattis over the phone, “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them.” Mattis told the president that he would but, after hanging up, told a senior aide, “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured,” and then came up with a plan that Trump ultimately went with. And, per the Post:
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.’ ”
It’s cold comfort that, despite all the fires Trump has tried to start domestically and internationally, things would be even worse if unelected advisers weren’t constantly undermining and distracting the president with shiny objects. And considering how bad Trump is at hiring people, we’re likely truly, deeply screwed.