Among the many shocking revelations included in veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House is the unprecedented news that the Pentagon directly ignored an order from their commander-in-chief.
The incident in question came in April of last year after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad allegedly launched a chemical attack on his own civilian citizens. While people all over the world were justifiably outraged by the war crime that violated all international rules of engagement, President Trump almost literally went nuclear, according to Woodward.
The Washington Post quoted from an advance copy of Woodward’s book that they obtained and described the environment that led to the chilling exchange between Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis:
“With Trump’s rage and defiance impossible to contain, Cabinet members and other senior officials learned to act discreetly. Woodward describes an alliance among Trump’s traditionalists — including Mattis and Gary Cohn, the president’s former top economic adviser — to stymie what they considered dangerous acts.”
“’It felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually,’ Porter is quoted as saying. ‘Other times, we would fall over the edge, and an action would be taken.’”
“After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. ‘Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,’ Trump said, according to Woodward.”
Mattis, who knows the rules of international law, told the president that he would address it immediately, but when he got off the phone with Trump he told an aide “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured,” Woodward writes. Instead, the Defense Secretary developed a plan for a conventional airstrike that eventually appeased Trump’s bloodlust.
The portrait that Woodward’s book paints of a White House where top aides surreptitiously remove documents from the president’s desk to prevent him from signing them displays a level of dysfunction and paranoia in the Oval Office that is truly frightening.
Even more frightening is another story that Woodward recounts of Trump questioning why the U.S. was spending so much money on detecting missile launches in North Korea. That Matiss was forced to respond to the question by telling the president that “we’re doing this in order to prevent World War III” proves that his later statement to close associates that Trump acted like — and had the understanding of — “a fifth- or sixth-grader” was manifestly accurate.
Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House will be available for the public at large to read even more frightening stories from the inner workings of the Trump administration beginning September 11th.
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