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Trump hits back at 'Crazytown' claims

By CHEN WEIHUA | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-06 10:13
Bob Woodward. [Photo/China Daily]

US President dismisses book detailing White House chaos

US President Donald Trump and his cabinet have been engaged in damage control after Bob Woodward, a twice Pulitzer Prize winner, revealed shocking details of the chaos inside the White House in his new book.

According to Fear: Trump in the White House, the president wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated in April last year following the alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government troops.

"Let's f*****g kill him! Let's go in. Let's kill the f*****g lot of them," Trump said, according to Woodward.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, though telling Trump he would "get right on it", instead opted for a limited airstrike that did not threaten Assad personally.

Another detail which went viral on news and social media also related to Mattis, with the Pentagon chief telling his close associates that Trump's understanding of national security and world affairs is like a "fifth or sixth grader".

Mattis made the comment after Trump questioned the need for a US military presence on the Korean Peninsula back in January.

"It's just another bad book," Trump told the Daily Caller, a conservative publication, rejecting its claims as "nasty stuff" and "made up".

In the 448-page book to be published on Sept 11, Woodward writes that Gary Cohn, the former chief White House economic adviser, "stole a letter off Trump's desk" that, if signed by Trump, would have pulled the US out from its free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea, as well as another draft letter on quitting the North American Free Trade Agreement.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was described as calling Trump an "idiot" and the White House "Crazytown".

Counterattack

Trump, meanwhile, was described as attacking his Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "a traitor" for recusing himself in the Russian investigation. He also belittled Sessions as "mentally retarded" and a "dumb southerner".

Hours after The Washington Post reported on the book by Woodward, who is also associate editor at the paper, the White House mounted a counterattack with tweets from Trump calling the book "discredited" and statements of denials from his cabinet members-Mattis, Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

"The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by General (Secretary of Defense) James Mattis and General (Chief of Staff) John Kelly. Their quotes were made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative? Notice timing?", Trump wrote in a tweet, referring to the upcoming midterm election in November.

The White House mounted a similar counterattack after Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, was published in January. The book revealed many behind-the-scene stories about Trump during his first nine months in office.

In a statement to The Post, Woodward said: "I stand by my reporting."

While any damage the book could do to the midterm election is uncertain, some speculate that the Democratic Party might retake the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Zha Daojiong, a professor at the school of international studies of Peking University, said he is not sure if the revelations in the book will impact the thinking of the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to predict what a US president is likely going to choose to do with regard to the DPRK, including its leader," he said.

But he said it is quite natural for the DPRK leadership to "take a page" from past dealings between the United States and countries like Iraq, Libya and Syria. "The real question is, I imagine, even if the American side made an effort to try to convince the North Koreans otherwise, would it be credible?"

The Washington Post and AFP contributed to this story.

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