Trump said Sessions was 'mentally retarded' and a 'dumb southerner', Bob Woodward book says

President denies mocking attorney general as he rejects claims in new White House expose

Watergate reporters confront 'fake news' and Trump in White House Correspondents' Dinner speeches

Donald Trump has denied claims in a new book by a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist that he called US attorney general Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb southerner”.

Fear, by legendary Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, has sparked fury in the White House with its incendiary anecdotes about the president.

Mr Trump has already moved to discredit claims within the book, claiming the stories it contained were “frauds” and “a con on the public”.

In one incident described by Mr Woodward, the president is said to have insulted Mr Sessions in front of an aide, before performing an unflattering impression of his Alabama accent.

“The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions ‘mentally retarded’ and ‘a dumb southerner,’” Mr Trump said on Twitter.

“I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!”

The book, which is due for release next week, is the first of its kind by an industry-respected journalist documenting often chaotic scenes inside the Trump White House.

US defence secretary Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly have already moved to distance themselves from comments attributed to them by Mr Woodward.

Mr Kelly is reported to have expressed concerns over the president’s mental faculties, describing him as an “idiot” and declaring in one meeting “we’re in crazy town.”

Mr Mattis has denied claims he said the president displayed “the understanding of a sixth-grader” by questioning why the US maintained a military presence in South Korea.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Mr Mattis is reported to have told him.

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 Mr Woodward appeared to have interviewed.

Insiders fear fallout from the book could be worse than that of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, given the journalist’s reputation.

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