John Kelly: No, I Did Not Call the President an Idiot; 'He and I Both Know' That's 'Total B.S.'
The White House pushed back hard Tuesday against the extremely unflattering portrayal of President Trump in legendary journalist Bob Woodward's scathing new book about the Trump administration. Woodward, who helped break the Watergate scandal over 40 years ago, is still a highly respected Washington journalist.
According to excerpts from the book published in the Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Trump an "idiot" during discussions with colleagues in the White House.
"He's an idiot. It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails," Kelly was quoted in the book as saying. "We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had."
Kelly allegedly would lose his temper often and said he thought Trump was "unhinged," according to the report.
If the story seems familiar, it's because the media first reported the allegation that Kelly called Trump an idiot last spring. He denied the charge then, calling it "total B.S.," and he's denying it now.
“The idea I ever called the president an idiot is not true. 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. He always knows where I stand, and he and I both know this story is total B.S. I’m committed to the president, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes,” Kelly said.
Woodward's book, titled Fear: Trump in the White House, claims that Trump called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "a traitor" and complained that "everybody's trying to get me" when he found out that Robert Mueller had been appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Supposedly, Trump also called Sessions "mentally retarded."
And the president once phoned Defense Secretary James Mattis to say "Let's f---ing kill him" after Syrian leader Bashar Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians, according to the book.
"Let's go in. Let's kill the f---king lot of them," Trump said in one of the highlights of the 448-page book that was described in an article Tuesday in The Washington Post, where Woodward has long worked. "Fear" is slated for a Sept. 11 release.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders threw cold water on the allegations Tuesday.
“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad. While it is not always pretty, and rare that the press actually covers it, President Trump has broken through the bureaucratic process to deliver unprecedented successes for the American people,” Sanders said in a statement.
“Sometimes it is unconventional, but he always gets results. Democrats and their allies in the media understand the President’s policies are working and with success like this, no one can beat him in 2020 — not even close,” she added.
"It's just another bad book," Trump told The Daily Caller Tuesday. "He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” the president declared. He pointed out that Woodward never interviewed him for the book. “I probably would have preferred to speak to him, but maybe not. I think it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the book. He wanted to write the book a certain way.”
Trump added: “It’s just nasty stuff. I never spoke to him. Maybe I wasn’t given messages that he called. I probably would have spoken to him if he’d called, if he’d gotten through. For some reason I didn’t get messages on it.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a statement on the Woodward book while en route to India, saying Woodward's "anonymous sources do not lend credibility."