Woodward book reveals 'crazytown' White House

Bob Woodward's new book called "Fear: Trump in the White House" paints a portrait of a dysfunctional White House under President Trump.

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 5:21 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2018 5:26 AM

President Donald Trump has called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "mentally retarded" and a "dumb Southerner," striking a far more shocking and profane tone in private than his public attacks, according to a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward.

Trump's long-simmering anger stems from Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Woodward describes how Trump viewed this as a backstabbing betrayal by someone he hoped would shield him from trouble.

The 448-page opus from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, "Fear: Trump in the White House," is slated for public release on September 11. CNN obtained a copy of the book, which Woodward says is drawn from hundreds of hours of background interviews with dozens of firsthand sources, including people in Trump's inner circle.

Woodward's reporting brings a credibility that distinguishes this book from previous efforts on Trump. The author and Washington Post journalist has won two Pulitzer Prizes, including one for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation.

The White House on Tuesday accused Woodward of spreading "fabricated stories" but did not deny any of the anecdotes in the book about Sessions.

Here are some of the many revelations from the book about the deteriorating relationship between Trump and Sessions, as reported by Woodward:

  • "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb Southerner," Trump told Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who later quit amid domestic violence allegations. Trump then did an unflattering impression of Sessions' Alabama accent, making fun of Sessions' shaky performance at his confirmation hearings.

  • Trump privately told Porter: "How in the world was I ever persuaded to pick him for my attorney general? He couldn't even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama. What business does he have being attorney general?"

  • Trump once called Sessions an "idiot" to his face during an Oval Office meeting, Woodward reports. Not long after that, Sessions submitted a resignation letter to the White House, but Trump's senior aides persuaded him not to accept it.

  • The book says Trump vented to an aide that Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe was "the ultimate betrayal" and called him a "traitor."

  • Then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Sessions in summer 2017 that Trump was attacking him to create a distraction -- because Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was about to testify on Capitol Hill about Russia. Bannon reportedly said, "when Jared finishes testifying, if they think it's good testimony, he'll stop tweeting."

Late Tuesday night, Trump denied calling Sessions "mentally retarded" or a "dumb Southerner," and accused Woodward of making it up.

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

Some Republicans criticized Trump on Tuesday for his comments about Sessions. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said "I resent that," when asked about Trump's mockery of Sessions' southern accent. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a fierce Trump ally, said Trump's comments were "totally inappropriate."

Over the past year, Trump has publicly attacked his handpicked attorney general on Twitter and in television interviews -- including a series of blistering tweets last month. Trump previously dubbed Sessions "our beleaguered A.G." and criticized his actions as "very weak" and "disgraceful." But Woodward's book exposes a new level of vitriol.

Sessions took the rare step of firing back at Trump after one of the President's most recent salvos. In a public statement, Sessions defended his control over the Justice Department and said it "will not be improperly influenced by political considerations."

As has happened before, some senior Republicans on Capitol Hill rushed to Sessions' defense and expressed confidence in his performance.

But a few cracks emerged when two key senators opened the door to confirming a new attorney general after the midterms. Trump seemed to embrace that idea in an interview with Bloomberg in late August, when he said Sessions' job was safe until at least November.

In that interview, Trump also repeated his desire for Sessions to investigate his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect reaction to Woodward's book.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 71°
Florence
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 67°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 89927

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 109627

Reported Deaths: 1073
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21296285
Davidson19320199
Rutherford604251
Hamilton562147
Knox392634
Williamson323022
Sumner316069
Unassigned29244
Out of TN282312
Wilson206420
Montgomery171111
Bradley170510
Sevier17025
Trousdale15726
Putnam154713
Robertson143216
Hamblen121713
Tipton11049
Blount10987
Maury10665
Washington10382
Madison88912
Bedford86210
Macon83413
Hardeman79411
Sullivan7809
Lake7440
Bledsoe6681
Loudon6493
Fayette6178
Anderson5995
Dickson5871
Gibson5582
Cheatham5445
Dyer5427
Rhea4971
Jefferson4892
McMinn47920
Lawrence4746
Obion4274
Henderson4260
Carter4245
Lauderdale4216
Coffee4112
Warren4004
Hardin3987
Cocke3911
Cumberland3756
Greene3695
Haywood3695
Smith3613
Monroe3569
Roane3561
Giles3449
Hawkins3244
McNairy3105
DeKalb3041
Franklin2854
Marshall2632
Weakley2603
Lincoln2511
Carroll2263
Hickman2260
Crockett2233
Wayne2141
Claiborne2120
Henry2110
Campbell2071
Marion2064
Chester1921
White1913
Grainger1680
Polk1661
Johnson1600
Decatur1591
Unicoi1360
Overton1341
Union1180
Cannon1170
Jackson1071
Grundy1012
Humphreys1013
Scott1010
Meigs960
Sequatchie940
Benton921
Morgan791
Fentress740
Hancock741
Perry740
Stewart700
Clay620
Lewis561
Houston550
Moore420
Van Buren320
Pickett221

 

 

Community Events