Washington, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — An incendiary tell-all book by a reporter who helped bring down President Richard Nixon set off a firestorm in the White House on Tuesday, with its descriptions of current and former aides calling President Donald Trump an "idiot" and a "liar," disparaging his judgment and claiming they plucked papers off his desk to prevent him from withdrawing from a pair of trade agreements.
The book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward is the latest to throw the Trump administration into damage-control mode with explosive anecdotes and concerns about the commander in chief. The Associated Press obtained a copy of "Fear: Trump in the White House" on Tuesday, a week before its official release.
Trump decried the quotes and stories in the book on Twitter as "frauds, a con on the public," adding that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly had denied uttering quoted criticisms of the president in the book.
And he denied accounts in the book that senior aides snatched sensitive documents off his desk to keep him from making impulsive decisions. He said in an interview with The Daily Caller, "There was nobody taking anything from me."
Later Tuesday, Trump was back on Twitter denying the book's claim that he had called Attorney General Jeff Sessions "mentally retarded" and "a dumb southerner."
Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff," adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing." Sessions has been a target of the president's wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
The publication of Woodward's book has been anticipated for weeks, and current and former White House officials estimate that nearly all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist. The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dismissed the book as "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad."
Woodward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The book quotes Kelly as having doubts about Trump's mental faculties, declaring during one meeting, "We're in Crazytown." It also says he called Trump an "idiot," an account Kelly denied Tuesday.
The book says Trump's former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, doubted the president's ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with Trump's campaign. Dowd, who stepped down in January, resigned after the mock interview, the book says.
"Don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit," Dowd is quoted telling the president.
Dowd, in a statement Tuesday, said "no so-called 'practice session' or 're-enactment'" took place and denied saying Trump was likely to end up in an orange jumpsuit.
Mattis is quoted explaining to Trump why the U.S. maintains troops on the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korea's missile activities. "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III," Mattis said, according to the book.
The book recounts that Mattis told "close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'"
Mattis said in a statement, "The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence."
A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, said Mattis was never interviewed by Woodward.
"Mr. Woodward never discussed or verified the alleged quotes included in his book with Secretary Mattis" or anyone within the Defense Department, Manning said.
Woodward reported that after Syria's Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying: "Kill him! Let's go in." Mattis assured Trump he would get right on it but then told a senior aide they'd do nothing of the kind, Woodward wrote. National security advisers instead developed options for the airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley denied Tuesday that Trump had ever planned to assassinate Assad. She told reporters at U.N. headquarters that she had been privy to conversations about the Syrian chemical weapons attacks, "and I have not once ever heard the president talk about assassinating Assad."
She said people should take what is written in books about the president with "a grain of salt."
Woodward also claims that Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, boasted of removing papers from the president's desk to prevent Trump from signing them into law, including efforts to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and from a deal with South Korea.
Trump did not speak to Woodward until after the book's manuscript was completed. The Post released audio of Trump expressing surprise about the book in an August conversation with Woodward and dismay that he did not have an opportunity to contribute. Woodward tells Trump he had contacted multiple officials to attempt to interview Trump and was rebuffed.
"I never spoke to him," Trump told The Daily Caller. "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."
The book follows the January release of author Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," which led to a rift between Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, who spoke with Wolff in terms that were highly critical of the president and his family. Wolff's book attracted attention with its vivid anecdotes but suffered from numerous factual inaccuracies.
Woodward's work also comes weeks after former White House aide and "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman published an expose on her time in the West Wing, including audio recordings of her firing by Kelly and a follow-up conversation with the president in which he claimed to have been unaware of Kelly's decision.
While White House aides have become increasingly numb to fresh scandals, the latest book still increased tensions in the West Wing, especially given the intimate details shared and the number of people Woodward appeared to have interviewed. Some White House officials expressed surprise at the number of erstwhile Trump loyalists willing to offer embarrassing stories of the president and his inner circle.
White House aides on Tuesday coordinated with other officials quoted in the book to dispute troublesome passages. But insiders speculated the fallout could be worse than that from "Fire and Fury," given Woodward's storied reputation.
Woodward's book was already ranked the top-selling book on Amazon on Tuesday.
Trump has been increasingly critical of anonymous sources used by reporters covering his administration. Woodward's account relies on deep background conversations with sources, meaning their identities are not disclosed.
Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer defended Woodward's methodology. "I've been on the receiving end of a Bob Woodward book," he tweeted Tuesday. "There were quotes in it I didn't like. But never once - never - did I think Woodward made it up."
He added: "Anonymous sources have looser lips and may take liberties. But Woodward always plays it straight. Someone told it to him."
Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) - BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday alleged that their chairperson Khaleda Zia was taken to the makeshift court in Old Dhaka Central Jail ‘by force’.
He came up with the allegation while speaking at a discussion titled ‘EVM Boycott, National Election and Political Alliance’. Nagorik Oikya arranged the programme at the Jatiya Press Club.
“Most of our lawyers didn’t go inside the court in the jail today (Wednesday). A few lawyers who had been there said the court was set up in a small and dark room where there’s no siting arrangement,” Fakhrul said.
He further said, “Our leader (Khaleda) was taken there (court) in a wheelchair by force. She told the court to hold the trial keeping her in the jail room as she won’t get justice.”
On Tuesday, the government issued a gazette notification about shifting the makeshift court at Bakshibazar Alia Madrasah premises to Old Dhaka Central Jail to hold the trial of Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
As the trial proceedings in Zia Charitable Trust graft case in the newly set up makeshift court in the jail began, the authorities brought Khaleda to the court in a wheelchair around 12:15pm.
Fakhrul said it is unbelievable that the trial of Khaleda Zia’s case is being held in a small room of an abandoned jail. “It’s violation of the constitution and the existing law. We strongly condemn it.”
Referring to a newspaper report, he alleged that the government has been filing many ‘ghostly cases’ to implicate BNP leaders and activists in those ahead of the national election.
The main objective of such cases is to hold a lopsided election keeping opposition leaders and activists out of the race.
Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) – Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday said there is a great possibility that the next general election will be held on December 27 next.
“…there’s a good chance for holding the upcoming national election on December 27. I’ve discussed with the Election Commission and they’ve informed me that they’re proposing a date like this,” he said.
The finance minister was replying to queries from reporters after Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury met him at the Secretariat.
“If you look at the dates in December, there remain two or three days for holding the election due to some special days like the Victory Day, Christmas and so on. So, the chance of holding the election on December 27 is huge,” he further said.
Muhith also said the date can be known once the Election Commission announces the election schedule.
Asked about the election-time government, he said there will be ministers from all political parties having representation in parliament in the interim small government like the last one.
He also said there will be no representative from BNP or civil society in the government.
Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) - BNP on Wednesday announced a two-day countrywide programme demanding its Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release from jail.
The programme includes holding of an hour-long human chain on September 10 and a two-hour long token hunger strike on September 12.
Besides, the party will stage demonstrations across the country, including the in capital, on September 8 protesting the shifting of the makeshift court on Bakshibazar Alia Madrasah premises to Old Dhaka Central Jail to hold the trial of Zia Charitable Trust graft case against Khaleda.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi announced the programmes at a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office.
“We’ve brought some changes in our action programmes we announced at noon. We’re now announcing a three-day revised programme,” he said.
The BNP leader said they shifted their human chain programme to September 10 from September 8.
As per the revised programmes, he said their party leaders and activists will form human chains in all metropolitan cities and district towns from 11 am to 12 pm on September 10.
In Dhaka, Rizvi said, the human chain programme will be held in front of the Jatiya Press Club on the same day and same time.
Besides, he said, the party will observe a token hunger strike in all metropolitan cities and all district towns from 10 am 12 noon on September 12.
The BNP leader also said they have sought permission from the authorities of Mohanagar Natya Mancha and the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh to get any of the venues to hold their token hunger strike programme.
Earlier at a press conference at noon, Rizvi announced a two-day programme, including human chain on September 8 and the hunger strike on September 12.
On February 8 last, a special court sentenced Khaleda to five years' rigorous imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.
Khaleda, a 73-year-old former prime minister, was taken to the old central jail minutes after the verdict was delivered.
Dhaka, Sept 4 (UNB) – Jukta Front Chairman AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury on Tuesday said the Prime Minister’s remarks at her press conference on the leaders of their alliance and Gano Forum were not decent ones.
“Though the remarks deserve a reply, but it’s not necessary right now,” he said in a statement.
B Chowdhury, however, greeted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the part of her speech at the press conference that contained positive remarks over the alliance between Jukta Front and Gano Forum.
“We want to see the Prime Minister’s positive remarks effective ones through the government’s efforts to manifest democratic attitude in its action,” he added.
The former president urged the government to take steps for formation of an election-time neutral government, neutral Election Commission and dissolution of parliament at least two months before the polls.
The former President also called upon the government to release all the political prisoners and not to obstruct any political meeting, rally and campaign. “We hope no attempt will be made to thwart our efforts to forge a greater unity among the democratic forces.”
B Chowdhury, also the president of Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh, suggested the government to deploy the armed forces (with magistracy power) for total 40 days--from 30 days before the election to 10 days after the polls--to maintain law and order for the sake of a fair election.