Trump on Woodward book: A work of fiction

President Donald Trump answered reporters' questions regarding Bob Woodward's book about the President during a bilateral meeting with the Amir of Kuwait Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 10:10 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 10:10 AM

President Donald Trump, showing his outrage over Bob Woodward's explosive new book, is ordering a real witch hunt in the West Wing and throughout his administration, asking loyal aides to help determine who cooperated with the book.

"The book is fiction," Trump said Wednesday in the Oval Office alongside the Emir of Kuwait.

Even as the President publicly fumes, he's privately on a mission to determine who did -- and didn't -- talk to Woodward, CNN has learned.

But no sooner had the search for Woodward's sources begun than yet another devastating portrait of the President emerged, this time via a New York Times op-ed written by an unnamed senior Trump administration official.

"Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them," the official wrote in the Times.

The official says "the root of the problem is the President's amorality" and paints a damning picture of Trump's "reckless decisions," "erratic behavior" and his "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" leadership style.

The White House did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment on the op-ed.

Before it published, two officials who have spoken directly to the President say he is pleased with the denials of speaking to Woodward offered by chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Trump himself highlighted the denials of Mattis and Kelly, saying that both men were "insulted" by the comments Woodward attributed to them.

"Gen. Mattis has come out very, very strongly...He was insulted by the remarks that were attributed to him," Trump said. "John Kelly, same thing. He was insulted by what they said. He couldn't believe what they said."

In Trump's eyes, what makes or breaks aides who are reported to have made disparaging comments about him is how strongly they push back on the accusations.

Unlike Kelly and Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson never denied calling Trump a "moron" and a former senior White House official said Trump "never forgave him for it."

But he is also taking note of the silence from several other former administration officials.

"He wants to know who talked to Woodward," one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity amid the highly tense atmosphere in the West Wing in the wake of the book.

The search for leakers inside the administration contrasts with the White House's defense that the book was fueled by "disgruntled employees," offered by press secretary Sarah Sanders and others.

One source close to the White House said people inside the administration are "frustrated because they know it's true."

Trump has talked openly with allies about his suspicion that former national security adviser H.R. McMaster cooperated, suggesting that McMaster likely turned over his notes to Woodward. The President has aired a similar belief about Gary Cohn, the former chief economic adviser.

Both men, of course, play key roles in the book.

The President is directing the response strategy personally, officials say, in consultation with top communications official Bill Shine and other aides. At this point, it seems unlikely that anyone is immediately fired because of the book, one official says, because that would "lend credence to a book he is trying to discredit."

More broadly, the White House's emerging strategy to push back against Woodward's reporting seems to be going after those former officials suspected of sharing documents and stories, according to several people familiar with the game plan.

"You don't discredit Bob Woodward. You discredit the motives of the people" who provided the information, one person said.

Evidently caught off guard by the level of detail in the book, White House officials were soliciting advice from allies on how to respond to the book as recently as this weekend, a person familiar with those conversations said.

Sanders also tried brushing off the book as a rehash of old -- incorrect -- stories.

"Certainly just because they keep getting told doesn't make them more true," Sanders said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 147382

Reported Deaths: 3763
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto973199
Hinds9668197
Harrison6898109
Jackson6178119
Rankin5319100
Lee487695
Madison4666106
Forrest371386
Jones346788
Lauderdale3355144
Lafayette317549
Washington3122107
Lamar283449
Oktibbeha240861
Bolivar240184
Lowndes229763
Neshoba2177115
Panola215849
Marshall209650
Leflore201490
Pontotoc196128
Monroe191477
Sunflower190555
Lincoln186865
Warren172657
Tate165451
Union163925
Pike160658
Copiah159540
Yazoo152039
Scott150729
Coahoma148743
Itawamba148234
Pearl River146567
Alcorn146327
Simpson145153
Prentiss141230
Adams137949
Grenada137745
Leake131943
Holmes126561
Tippah123030
George122324
Covington119737
Winston119124
Wayne116223
Hancock115939
Marion111646
Attala109833
Tishomingo106542
Chickasaw104132
Newton103629
Tallahatchie96327
Clarke88853
Clay87127
Jasper81222
Walthall75328
Stone73114
Calhoun72913
Montgomery72125
Carroll70614
Lawrence70314
Yalobusha70027
Noxubee69717
Smith69616
Perry65426
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57616
Jefferson Davis55017
Humphreys52918
Amite51814
Benton48717
Quitman4816
Webster42114
Kemper41918
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34211
Franklin3265
Choctaw3117
Sharkey30717
Issaquena1124
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
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