White House staff removed documents from Trump’s desk fearing national security risk, new Bob Woodward book claims

The White House says that the book is a fabrication intended to make the president look bad.

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 04 September 2018 21:28 BST
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Donald Trump’s White House aides have removed paperwork from his desk and considered him a threat to national security, according to a new inflammatory book written by veteran journalist Bob Woodward.

The new book is the latest in a series of publications that have described a tumultuous and chaotic Trump White House, and is the first of its kind written by a industry respected journalist who played a pivotal role in the reporting that led to former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment.

In the book — Fear which won’t be released until next week — the White House is described as a a tumultuous place where top aides to the president had insulted the president behind his back, and considered his lack of curiosity and knowledge about governing and foreign policy to be a worry for the president’s national security team, according to a review by The Washington Post, which obtained an advance copy of the book.

One instance outlined in the book, a 19 January National Security meeting, involved Mr Trump disregarding the importance of long-standing US military presence on the Korean Peninsula — which allows the US to detect North Korean missile launches within seconds instead of the 15 minutes it would take to detect such a launch from Alaska.

Mr Trump questioned why the US was spending money in the area at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly told him.

Mr Mattis, immediately after the meeting, then reportedly said “the president cited like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader’”.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in response to the portions of the book made available publicly through reports, said that the entire book is full of falsehoods intended to make the president look bad.

"This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad," Ms Sanders said in a statement distributed to the press.

Another portion of the book describes an instance with Mr Trump’s former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, who “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president intended to sign to formally withdraw the US from a trade agreement with South Korea. Mr Cohn later said he had done so to protect national security, and that the president did not know that it had gone missing.

Mr Cohn also made a similar move when it came to Mr Trump’s planning to take the US out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which was a main promise of Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In that instance, Mr Trump asked fro an aide to draft up a notification letter to pull the US out of Nafta — but advisers felt doing so could trigger an economic and foreign relations crisis.

“I can stop this. I’ll just take the paper off of his desk,” Mr Cohn told that aide, according to Mr Woodward’s book.

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