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Trump, Mattis, and Kelly Slam Woodward’s ‘Washington Brand of Literature’

By Bowen Xiao

A number of President Donald Trump’s close aides have publicly come out to deny claims attributed to them in Bob Woodward’s upcoming exposé of life inside the White House.

Portions of the unverified excerpts were published by The Washington Post on Sept. 4, one week before the full release of the book titled, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” Like the authors of similar recent exposés, Woodward, an investigative reporter who has worked for the Post for decades, listed many of his sources as “anonymous,” prompting questions on the book’s credibility.

In one excerpt, the book claimed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had told close aides that the president had the understanding of a “fifth or sixth grader,” a claim which Mattis refuted in a lengthy statement. He also labeled the other stories surrounding him in the book as “fiction.”

“The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence. While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility,” Mattis said.

Woodward’s book is the latest piece detailing supposed chaos inside the White House. It comes after former Trump aide Omarosa Newman’s claims in her recent book were discredited by many from both sides of the aisle.

President Donald Trump, flanked by Defense Secretary James Mattis (L), and Chief of Staff John Kelly (R), meets with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on October 5, 2017. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mattis continued: “In serving in this administration, the idea that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination.”

Sebastian Gorka, a former strategist to Trump and author of the forthcoming book, “Why We Fight,” told The Epoch Times that Woodward’s sources weren’t credible and called the claims “absolute garbage.”

“Woodward has written a book with the least access possible. This man has less access than the average American, nobody wanted to talk to this person. If they did, they were second-, third-, or fourth-level individuals.”

Gorka continued by saying that Woodward’s motivations undermined his integrity as a journalist.

“I think he’s an ideologically motivated individual… he has a progressive agenda to undermine the president. If you look at the interviews he is giving, this is an individual who’s not unbiased, not a ‘journalist’ in the ethical sense of the word.”

The former Trump aide recalled reading stories about himself from the New York Times and the Washington Post, saying that “nine out of 10 times, the report was exactly the opposite of what was happening.”

Trump himself came out to slam the book, which he said was seeking to divide the country. In one post on Twitter, he questioned Woodward’s political motivations, asking, is he “a Dem operative?” and commented on the timing of the book.

He also refuted claims that he referred to Attorney General Jeff Sessions using a number of crude slurs.

“The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing,” Trump wrote. “He made this up to divide!”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, in a written statement, also shot down the book’s claim that he made belittling remarks about the president, calling them “total BS.”

“The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true,” Kelly said. “As I stated back in May and still firmly stand behind: ‘I spend more time with the President than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at an event before President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Valerie Nessel, the widow of Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman, at the White House on Aug. 22, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Kelly called this latest book “another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump.” His sentiments were echoed by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad,” she said in a statement.

‘Fiction’

Trump addressed some of Woodward’s excerpts in more detail at the White House on Sept. 5. One of the more explosive parts of the book claims that Trump called Mattis to assassinate Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, following the chemical attack in April 2017.

Trump told reporters it never happened: “The book is fiction… Never even discussed.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrive for a press briefing on Feb. 7, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Trump said he was “honored” that his aides put out statements without him even knowing about it.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, the president addressed another claim that former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, “stole a letter off Trump’s desk.” According to the book, Trump was going to sign the letter, which would have formally withdrawn the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea; Cohn reportedly later told an associate he did it to protect national security and that the president didn’t notice it went missing.

“There was nobody taking anything from me,” Trump said.

Trump described the book’s content as “just nasty stuff” and said Woodward “had a lot of credibility problems.”

“I probably would have preferred to speak with him, but maybe not,” Trump said. “I think it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the book. He wanted to write the book a certain way.”

 
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