(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Bob Woodward on Donald Trump: "The president is so detached from the reality of what's going on"

"This has not been treated seriously enough," Woodward said during his first live interview about his book "Fear"


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Joseph Neese
September 10, 2018 3:45PM (UTC)

Although Bob Woodward is best known for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, when it comes to President Donald Trump, the famed investigative reporter claims he has "never seen an instance when the president is so detached from the reality of what's going on."

"This has not been treated seriously enough," Woodward said during the first live interview about his new book "Fear: Trump in the White House" Monday on NBC's "Today Show" "And the things — some of the things — Trump did and does jeopardizes the real national security."

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Trump came out swinging early Monday morning in a series of tweets that took direct aim at Woodward, whose book currently sits in the No. 1 slot on the Amazon Best Sellers list. Woodward has also written immersive books about former Democratic presidents, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

"The Woodward book is a Joke - just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources," Trump tweeted. "Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!"

When pressed by anchor Savannah Guthrie about the "unnamed" sources he used to compile his intimate look inside Trump's White House, Woodward pointed to the source of the president's attacks.

"There's a war on truth by him, and he says, 'Oh, these are unnamed sources,'" Woodward said. "But these are not unnamed incidents."

Among the specific incidents, Woodward's book begins with Gary Cohn, Trump's former chief economic adviser, allegedly lifting a document from the president's desk in order to prevent him from unraveling a trade deal that would jeopardize an intelligence operation. In another passage, the journalist describes a National Security Council meeting that allegedly occurred one year after Trump had been in office in which the president complained about the price tag on U.S. forces abroad.

"James Mattis says, 'We're doing this to prevent World War III,'" Woodward said of the incident. "The idea that the secretary of defense has to tell the president that all of these actions are designed to prevent the ultimate catastrophe. And [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis goes on and says, 'You know, if we don't keep these programs, which are very sensitive, the only deterrent option we have will be the nuclear option.'"

In the lead-up to the Tuesday release of Woodward's book, senior officials in Trump's administration have publicly come out to refute the truthfulness of incidents in which they were reportedly involved. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly denied calling the president an "idiot." "He's gone off the rails," Kelly is quoted in "Fear" as saying. "We're in crazy town." Mattis also denied saying president possessed the intelligence of a "fifth or sixth grader."

Woodward dismissed the denials as mere politics. "These are political statements to protect their jobs, totally understandable," he told Guthrie. "This is as carefully done as you can do an excavation of the reality of what goes on."

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The famed journalist further argued that his sources were both people of "conscious" and "courage." "People who said, 'Look the world needs to know this," Woodward said. "If you don't think it's risky for somebody to answer the questions and give the real details it is."

At the conclusion of his interview with Guthrie, Woodward also reminded "Today" viewers most of his interviews for his book had also been recorded.

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Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is the Managing Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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