UPDATE: CNN’s Chris Cillizza breaks down what we know about Woodward’s upcoming book and what it says about President Trump:
Yes, it’s as bad as you thought it was. Maybe worse.
That’s the unmistakable message about President Donald Trump and his administration from the early pieces of Bob Woodward’s chronicle — titled “Fear: Trump in the White House” — of the first year of the billionaire businessman’s presidency. The image Woodward casts of Trump is of a petulant child, deeply insecure about, well, everything. His staffers — from Defense Secretary James Mattis to chief of staff John Kelly and on down — spend most of their time a) keeping Trump in the dark for, in their estimation, the good of the country and b) running him down in meetings he isn’t in. Trump seems, by turns, annoyed by being left out of the loop and indifferent to it. And most importantly, the President seems entirely unaware of how incredibly out of his depth he actually is.
Midterm elections are often cast as referendums on the current Presidential administration, and this year will be no exception. New polls show that Democrats have a clear and growing advantage over Republicans heading into November — a Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Democrats with a 14-point advantage on the “generic congressional ballot” — and more than 6 in 10 Americans say that President Trump and the Republican Party are out of touch with the rest of the country.
This latest poll was conducted before today’s bombshell news about a new book from veteran journalist and famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward that paints the Trump White House as a disaster on an entirely new level. From CNN:
President Donald Trump’s closest aides have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them, according to a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward.
Woodward’s 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” provides an unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President’s inner circle. From the Oval Office to the Situation Room to the White House residence, Woodward uses confidential background interviews to illustrate how some of the President’s top advisers view him as a danger to national security and have sought to circumvent the commander in chief.
Many of the feuds and daily clashes have been well documented, but the picture painted by Trump’s confidants, senior staff and Cabinet officials reveal that many of them see an even more alarming situation — worse than previously known or understood. Woodward offers a devastating portrait of a dysfunctional Trump White House, detailing how senior aides — both current and former Trump administration officials — grew exasperated with the President and increasingly worried about his erratic behavior, ignorance and penchant for lying. [Pols emphasis]
Chief of staff John Kelly describes Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Woodward reports. Defense Secretary James Mattis describes Trump as having the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader.” And Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd describes the President as “a fucking liar,” telling Trump he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller.
“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them. [Pols emphasis]
Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.
At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.
Republican candidates in Colorado who have embraced Trump should be positively terrified about Woodward’s new book. Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, for example, recently praised Trump for keeping America safe “in an admirable way.” Other Colorado Republicans in precarious spots in November — like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — have occasionally tried to parse their words on Trump but have generally been too afraid to anger the Trump base to do anything other than vote in lockstep with the President.
For America in general, and Republicans specifically: Donald Trump,
Fearless leader Fear This Leader.