From claims that Donald Trump called for the assassination of the Syrian president to allegations that staff routinely take documents off Trump’s desk, excerpts of Bob Woodward’s account of the Trump’s chaotic and dysfunctional White House, published by the Washington Post on Tuesday, are the latest to shed light on the workings of the administration.
The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, was so incensed by the behavior of Donald Trump that he privately described the president to other aides as an “idiot” and complained that they were in “Crazytown”, according to an incendiary new account of Trump’s presidency.
The unflattering portrait of Trump’s White House, in which the president is portrayed as being so gripped by paranoia over the Russia investigation that he is barely able to operate, is contained in Fear, the much-anticipated book by Bob Woodward. A copy of the book was obtained, days before its official release, by the Washington Post, which reported on several of its most arresting details on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated last year but his defense secretary ignored the request, according to a new book that depicts top Trump aides sometimes disregarding presidential orders to limit what they saw as dangerous.
A Bob Woodward expose book has been a rite of passage for presidential administrations since the storied investigative reporter first made a name for himself by breaking Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn under the microscope.
While the accounts in Fear: Trump in the White House are provided on “deep background”, the episodes Woodward recounts and the quotes he attributes come from those in the room – and often, in fact, from the people who were doing the speaking.
The White House, and the president himself, have since responded to the book, calling it “fabricated stories” by “former disgruntled employees”.
One of the sources of considerable consternation for the president’s staff, per Woodward, was what they viewed as his dangerous impulses on foreign policy.
After the US believed the Syrian government had launched another chemical attack in April 2017, Mr Trump told Defence Secretary James Mattis to assassinate President Bashar Assad.
“Let’s kill the [expletive] lot of them,” the president reportedly said.
Mr Mattis acknowledged Mr Trump’s request then, after the conversation, told an aide he wouldn’t do “any of that”.
Woodward says administration officials were also concerned when the president asked for plans for a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea during the height of his feud with Kim Jong-un. The president also dressed down top generals over their handling of the war in Afghanistan, saying that soldiers “on the ground” could do a better job.
“How many more deaths?” he asked. “How many more lost limbs? How much longer are we going to be there?”
But that’s not the only case.