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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 4, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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>> i don't think i said that. >> we don't know what kind of cases are going to come before the supreme court -- >> we do know. there are 13 on the table right now that would gut roe v. wade. >> thank you so much. we'll be here all week. our coverage continues with one mr. wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news, we're in crazytown, the white house chief-of-staff as quoted as saying president trump is an idiot and unhinged, according to a new book from the famed journalist bob woodward. john kelly is also quoted as saying he's gone off the rails, we're in crazytown. the book paints a devastating picture of chaos and drama inside the west wing. doenlts testify. the president's lawyer worried that the president would commit perjury if he talked to robert mueller after a practice interview with the president, john dowd is quoted as saying, don't testify.
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its either that or an orange jump suit. stealing papers. woodward reports that the senior staff would steal documents from his desk to protect the country from possible disaster. woodward describes it as no less than an administrative cue dayta and mob rule as hearings begin, the judiciary committee divides along partisan lines with democrats moving to adjourn in a fight over documents. republicans dig in calling the democrats' move mob rule. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." announcer: this is cnn breaking news. its beyond stunning. in his latest book, bob woodward presents a devastating look behind the scenes of the trump white house. top members of the president's inner circle speak very bluntly
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about the dysfunction, the chaos stemming from what they portray as the president's ignorance and erratic behavior. they've taken extraordinary steps to prevent of the president from harming u.s. national security. the woodward book is managing to overshadow the confirmation hearing for the president's supreme court nominee which quickly broke down into a free for all as democrats angrily protested the conservative pick, brett kavanaugh. i'll speak with democratic senator ben cardin and our correspondents and specialists are all standing by with full coverage. let's begin with the breaking news. the truly shocking and disturbing revelations in bod woodward's new book, fear and trump in the white house. first up, cnn's chief white house correspondent jim acosa, this book must be rocking the white house right now. >> reporter: there is certainly fear inside the white house over this book, wolf. the white house released a statement this afternoon
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slamming the book. sarah huckabee sanders saying, quote, this book is nothing more than fabricated stories many by former disgruntled employees told to make the president look bad but the book is the latest deep dive into the trump white house full of bombshells that reveal top administration officials are worried, deeply worried about the president's behavior. >> hello, bob. >> president trump, how are you? >> reporter: before the release of his new book on the trump white house, entild, fear, bob woodward managed to get the president on the phone. mr. trump's assessment of the woodward book, not good. >> sounds like this is going to be a bad one. >> reporter: there are devastating episodes throughout the book. woodward explains how the president's former lawyer john dowd attempted to do a mock interview with mr. trump to demonstrate how he could perjury himself if he sits down with robert mueller. according to woodward, dowd explains the stakes in stark turns, don't testify, its either that or an orange jump suit. woodward says dowd who would later resigned called mr. trump a liar.
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the author also describes how former economic adviser gary cohn once removed a document from the president's desk to prevent him from executing a trade agreement with south korea. cohen said, i stole it off his desk. he's never going to see that document. got to protect the country. one of a number of actions woodward describes as a coup d' etat. we're in crazytown. this is the worst job i've ever had. the white house released a statement from kelly saying he never called the president an idiot. then according to woodward there's defense secretary james mattis who says the president has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. reince priebus who said the presidential bedroom was the devil's workshop. woodward offers nasty comments from the president that says priebus is like a little rat. he just scurries around and refers to jeff sessions as mentally retarded and a dumb
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southerner. the president wants told giuliani, you're a baby. i've never seen a worse defense of me in my life. you're like a little baby that needed to be changed. when are you going to be a man. woodward revisits the president's handling of the deadly riots in charlottesville saying mr. trump regretted a speech he gave at the white house. that was when the president actually condemned the white supremacists in charlottesville. but mr. trump said that speech was the biggest mistake i've made. the next day the president went back to blaming both sides for the violence. >> excuse me. you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> reporter: woodward says the president complained he wasn't asked for an interview. woodward reminds the president he made multiple requests. >> nobody told me about it and i would've loved to have spoken to you. >> senator graham said he had talked to you about talking to me, now is that not true?
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>> senator graham actually mention it had quickly on one meeting and, you know, that is true. >> reporter: president trump sat down with the conservative daily caller website to call the woodward book a bad book and to accuse the author of having credibility problems. the president's former outside lawyer john dowd pushed back on parts of the book saying, quote, that there was no so-called practice session of a mock interview at the special counsel's office saying he did not refer to the president as a liar and did not say he would end up in an orange jump suit. there are accounts of factual infighting that we've learned about over the last several months of covering this administration but wolf, its former white house reince priebus who sums up that dynamic best in the woodward book saying, when you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls, things start getting nasty and bloody, wolf. that does seem to sum things up over here quite often. >> lots of chaos. that's the picture we get.
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jim acosta at the white house. thank you very much. let's bring in jamie and jim sciutto. jamie, you were the first to get a copy of the book. you've gone through the book. you've read it not once, twice, maybe three times. you know all about the way this great american journalist bob woodward put it all together. >> this is a very important point. we've seen other books. this is different. bob woodward has credibility, he has one two pull administer prizes including for the watergate scandal. he has hundreds of hours of taped recordings and he did dozens of interviews for this book. watergate we talked about deep throat, in this case he had dozens of deep throats. i think the other thing that's important to know is about president trump and bob woodward. president trump in the past has been very complimentary of bob
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woodward and i like to play a little bit more of that phone call which was recorded with the president's permission. >> and i would've liked to have done that and i maximized my effort and somehow it didn't get to you -- >> its too bad because nobody told me about it and i would've loved to have spoken to you. i'm very open to you. you've always been fair, but we'll see what happens. >> you've always been fair. i think its important to know that bob woodward reached out to six different people to ask the president for an interview as we heard in the earlier tape in jim acosta's piece. the president admitted what he did a trump 180, he said, oh, its true, its true. what we're seeing here is the reality of what he's hearing about the book. >> woodward in that recorded phone conversation and bob
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woodward recorded it and at the top of the conversation you hear him saying, mr. president i'm recording this conversation, the president says okay. they go on. he says that weeks earlier he had lunch with kellyanne conway, the counselor to the president, the senior adviser to the president all about the book to tell kellyanne conway i'm doing this book, what would really be excellent if i could sit down with the president and have an interview and we're led to believe that kellyanne conway knowing the history of bob woodward and carl bernstein for that matter going back to watergate wouldn't tell the president, by the way, mr. president, bob woodward is doing a book about you he wants to sit down for an interview, do you want to do it? are we supposed to believe that she wouldn't do that? >> if you go on, we have the whole transcript and guess who's in the oval office during this conversation, kellyanne conway, the president puts her on the phone with bob. she admits that he put the
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request in and then there's this surreal moment where she says, well, i put in the request but it was rejected. >> she put it through a proet call. >> the reality is, kellyanne conway at that moment is standing in the oval office with president trump, she has access to him. there's just -- its strains the imagination that he did not know about this and that she hadn't spoken to him about it. >> there's really incredible details of a conversation that the president's lawyers had with robert mueller about the possibility of the president sitting down for an interview with the special counsel. >> so this is stunning. what we hear first is that former personal attorney john dowd goes to the white house residence, he doesn't think the president is capable of getting through an interview without per jurying himself. so he puts the president through a test. i'll be mueller, you answer the
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questions and bob woodward's book he details how this plays out and within a few minutes woodward reports that dowd says -- president trump perjuries himself, he can't tell the truth. he fails the test. what's even more stunning is a couple of weeks after that dowd and still the president's present attorney jay sekulow go to meet with robert mueller, the special counsel, in his office and to try to convince mueller that he really can't do this interview with president trump, they re-enact what happened at the white house residence, one of them plays president trump, one of them plays mueller and they do this dramatization of it. its stunning. >> it certainly is stunning and its amazing but there's so much more based on your excellent reporting, jamie. the attorney general of the
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united states, jeff sessions, the president has been rebuking him and criticizing him and humiliating him publicly for a long, long time because he recused himself from the russia investigation and at one point, and this is from the book according to bob woodward, this is how he describes the attorney general of the united states. this guy is mentally retarded. he's this dumb southerner. >> this is beyond the pale. in some ways we're used to donald trump attacking jeff sessions because if you look at his twitter feed every day, there seems to be something, but this goes to lengths that i don't -- i certainly never imagined. i have to also wonder how much of the president's base is going to feel about his calling the attorney general a dumb southerner. >> and when he said, he's this
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dumb southerner, according to woodward, he mocks sessions by fayning a southern accent. you wonder how that's going to play in the south. jim, there's also incredible details about how the president's top national security advisers felt they had to protect the country on sensitive national security issues from the president of the united states. >> yeah. you said it right there. multiple situations like that and the president showing apparently no interest in or knowledge of the details of those key national security issues and we're talking about the most essential ones today to start with the nuclear threat from north korea. there was a discussion apparently among his senior advisers here where gary cohn asked him the question as the president was raising doubts about u.s. forces deployed to south korea, which are there for a reason to protect against north korea and be a deterrent, asked him what would you need to feel secure for america and the
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president's answer was and apologies for the expletive in that, i wouldn't need a curse word thing and i would sleep like a baby. that's how the president responded to a question about u.s. forces deployed to south korea. a key detail in here, not just talking about the troops there but talking about u.s. intelligence capabilities that are there expressly to detect the launch of a north korean missile and having those forces there decreased the warning time from 12 minutes if it was based in alaska to seven seconds. big deal if you're talking about a missile threatening the u.s. and the president showing that complete lack of interest. i'd sleep like a baby. this is apparently the exchange that led then secretary of state rex tillerson to call the president, you may remember this report about a year ago, to call him a curse word moron. that was the secretary of state's reaction to the president's reaction there. james mattis trying to explain
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to the president why this is important, we're doing this in order to prevent world war iii. afterwards according to woodward, mattis came out of that meeting and said, this is a president who in mattis's words, according to woodward, a president who understands these issues like a fifth or sixth grader. these are current sitting advisers to the president. mattis who is seen by many the most respected adviser, senior adviser to the president. that's the way they described him. >> there's a fascinating little nugget there on national security when apparently the president was talking about maybe the u.s. should just go ahead and assassinate the assad and general mattis said i've got to ignore that kind of order. >> a remarkably glib and irresponsible way for a president to discuss the application of military force abroad, this following syria's use of chemical weapons which eventually the president
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ordered -- the president's first reaction again according to bob woodward's book is let's f'ing kill him, let's go in, let's f'ing kill the lot of them. not only the language he used there but suggesting an operation to go in and asat nature a foreign leader but woodward's description mattis was to slow roll this. this is not going to happen. let's back him away from this and over time apparently got him to move in the direction of a more surgical cruise missile strike and not a military operation. a key national security interest here where the president's reaction appears to be emotional, gutteral but not intellectual and according to his own senior advisers showing no interest in both the consequences of the actions but also the details necessary to make those decisions. >> wolf, this is a key theme throughout woodward's book, that
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the president has either a lack of understanding or lack of knowledge and that no matter how many times his top aides go to him, he doesn't seem to get it. at one point there's a scene in the book where they're so concerned about south korea, the white house has defense secretary mattis come to the white house sort of as the last line of defense and say to the president, you know, we have to do this. this will cause world war iii. so there's this repeated theme in the book that woodward is in effect saying that these national security advisers, these top administration officials see themselves as the thin blue line protecting the country. when gary cohn swipes a document off the desk, the quote is, got to protect the country. >> the president's former top economic adviser gary cohn who later either was fired or whatever happened, but he was really angry at the president
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for -- there are very fine people on both sides quotes regarding what happened in charlottesville. you and i -- we all know bob woodward for a long time. he's a world class journalist with a lot of history. this book is going to cause a lot of angst over at the white house and among the president's supporters. guys, we'll have you back. stand by. there's a lot more we're following. there's more breaking news. woodward's new look inside the trump white house reports top aides to the president would swipe documents from his desk to prevent it from hurting u.s. national security. the president is responding to that and woodward reports the president's former lawyer warned him not to talk under oath with the special counsel robert mueller saying you'd end up in, quote, an orange jump suit. if you have psoriasis, ... little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not a cream. it's a pill that treats moderate to severe plaque psoriasis differently. with otezla,
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breaking news. we're following very disturbing revelations about a chaotic trump white house and a president painted as impulsive and dangerously ignorant. they're coming from senior members of his own inner circle quoted in the brand-new book. joining us to discuss ben cardin of maryland. senator, thanks so much for joining us. do these excerpt that's we've all seen today give you concern about president trump's fitness for office? >> wolf, its good to be with you. bob woodward is a well respected national journalist. the fact that he has reported in such detail through this book, events in the white house that should shock everyone in this country, you think some of us are not surprised to hear some of this because we expected this is what was happening but to see bob woodward be able to give us
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the specifics is really a major, major problem. it shows a person unfit to carry out the responsibilities of the presidency and his senior advisers keeping information away from him because they were worried as to what he would do with that information. >> i know. there's so much shocking material in this new book and according to the book, the president had trouble grasping basic national security concepts. his own secretary of defense said the president had the understanding of, quote, according to woodward, a fifth or sixth grader. how can the president conduct foreign policy, national security if he doesn't even have the confidence of his most trusted cabinet secretaries? >> and we're hearing this confirmed by other chief advisers to the president. the fact that they had to try to orchestrate different events and tell the president he shouldn't speak to different people, that
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the president was unable to deal with north korea in a way that would protect our national security, all of that is a major concern to the national security of the united states and the united states leadership globally on these important issues. so general mattis is well respected by democrats, republicans, the american people. his assessment of president trump is quite shocking. >> woodward's book also contains stories of senior white house staffers actually stealing documents off the president's desk in the oval office to prevent him from making decisions they believe would hurt national security. what does that tell you about the way this white house is managed? >> well, its clear to me that there are people in the white house who recognize the risk of this president and are trying to do what they can to protect our national security and protect this country, but normally you have to be very open to the
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president of the united states and to keep information from him, because you're afraid it will be used contrary to the best interest of our country is something that tells you about how those that are the closest to him feel about his competency to handle the presidency. >> you believe senator the people still has some people around him that are able to rein in some of those impulsive decisions? >> i think they're doing the best they can. general mattis enjoys strong support on capitol hill. there are others that are people that are really committed to our country, but its donald trump and donald trump is not a person who's easy to work with. he's unpredictable. he can tell you one thing one day and tell you just the opposite the next day. he can send you on a diplomatic assignment and then pull the rug out from under you in the next moment. that's a very difficult environment for people of talent and commitment to this country to be able to work under. >> according to woodward in a
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truly extraordinary move the president's legal team directly appealed to robert mueller, the special counsel, by re-enacting the mock interview they conducted with the president in order to argue that he was simply incapable of telling the truth. we should point out that the president's former attorney john dowd denies that claim, but do you think the president's ability or inability to tell the truth should factor into mueller's decision whether or not to pursue an actual sit-down interview with the president? >> i think that mr. mueller needs to talk directly with the president. that is a normal practice. obviously, the veracity of the president is challenged. there are reporters who have reported on a daily basis the president's lies so there's no question that he has misstated the facts over and over and over again. i think mr. mueller will have a sound foundation for an interview. he'll know when the president's not telling the truth and i think the president's lawyers are very concerned about that
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because they certainly don't want to see the president per injure himself. more breaking news, the white house chief-of-staff is quoted as saying president trump, quote, he's gone off the rails. we're in crazytown. and the president's closest advisers quoted as calling him a liar, an idiot and moron. a truly stunning picture of the chaotic white house. stay with us. (door bell rings) it's open! hey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart. so i talked to my doctor about humira. i learned humira can help get, and keep uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts.
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perju we're following multiple breaking stories on a truly remarkable day here in washington. a day when the bitterly partisan confirmation hearing of brett kavanaugh was upstaged even before he delivered his opening statement. that happened as "the washington post" released excerpts from bob woodward's new book about the trump white house and our own jamie gangle had access to the actual book and reported incredible details. we have a lot to discuss with our experts, ron brownstein, first of all, let me read an excerpt from the book. this is attributed to the white house chief-of-staff john kelly speaking of the president, quote, he's an idiot. he's pointless to try to convince him of anything. he's gone off the rails.
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we're in crazytown. i don't even know why any of us are here. this is the worst job i've ever had. and there's more. the secretary of defense james mattis, also a retired four-star general says, the president has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. how alarming is this picture painted by bob woodward in this new book? >> today we're going through the usual -- i've been watching these books for decades, the usual washington ritual of all the people quoting scrambling around saying i didn't say any of that as we've seen in presidential administrations going back. it basically says that inside the white house the picture looks even more ominous than it does for many of those on the outside and it comes out -- what i was thinking about when i read it today was "the washington post" abc poll over the weekend that found roughly 60% of suburban voters all wanted a congress that would be more of a
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check on president trump and these are the kinds of revelation that's really fuel that sentiment, the idea that this is beyond the normal boundaries of political debate that there are -- there's a volatility involved in this and that this republican majority congress is not imposing any checks or balances. >> truly remarkable anecdote told in the book. phil mudd is with us, the former chief economic adviser to the president gary cohn, the story is told by woodward actually had to go into the oval office and steal a document the president was apparently anxious to sign that would ended a u.s./south korea trade agreement which would have then resulted in some major national security ramifications for the united states, including narrowing -- expanding the time the u.s. would be able to determine if north korea launched some sort of nuclear missile. the excerpt claims cohn told an associate, quote, you stole it off his desk. i wouldn't let him see it.
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he's never going to see that document. got to protect the country. in the book you see those types of anecdotes over and over again. >> if you'd been around the president for the past year and a half, what decision would you trust, rocket man, best friend and now we can't trust him. and now we're seeing this week that the white house has to warn the russians about a civilian massacre in syria. you look at what the president has said about china. let me invite him to mar-a-lago, he did nothing on north korea and now we got a trade war with him. what we see in this government is something i've never seen. if you're president obama, you say we're getting out of iraq and afghanistan, if you're president bush, you say we're getting in to iraq and afghanistan, if you're president trump you go talk to the tv and your cabinet does whatever the heck they want to do. its weird. >> very strange indeed. the president, however, insists including today the white house is a fine-tuned machine. that's not the sense we get from
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reading bob woodward's book. >> this book offers a remarkable look at the chaos and the disfunction that is characterized the trump white house since day one. its now the second book where you have aides to this president liken his understanding of events to that of a child. we've already seen just over the last year and a half that the president doesn't really have a grasp on poll by but we now know some of the fires that those around him have put out. you mentioned the abrupt withdraw from the south korea free trade agreement. there's also the president questioning why the u.s. has a military presence over the korean peninsula suggesting that the united states should go into syria and take out bashar al assad. there's very serious allegations that have been made in this book and it really lays bear the ways in which the president is seen by his own advisers as a threat to national security, the question now, of course, is going to be whether they're going to be any departures or ramifications in the wake of this book.
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michael wolff's book called a dramatic rift between the president and his former chief strategist steve bannon. >> i suspect there will be. susan, according to woodward the president's former attorney john dowd called the president a liar. also told him not to do an interview with the special counsel, robert mueller. he said this according to woodward, quote, don't testify. its either that or an orange jump suit. dowd issued a statement later in the day denying that claim but what do you think? >> i don't know if dowd actually said that but we could be absolutely confident that he thinks that. trump's legal team has been terrified from the beginning the notion of the president sitting down with investigators and its because they're afraid he's going to lie under oath and when the president commits perjury that is incredibly serious whether or not it leads to an orange jump suit because you think he can be indicted or because its the beginning of the end of his presidency.
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it is obvious that one of their core motivations here is trying to prevent president trump from that moment. >> wait, there's more, susan. according to woodward, dowd later, the lawyer and other trump lawyers, they went to meet with robert mueller, the special counsel, and they argued directly to him that their client, the president of the united states, was incapable of telling the truth and therefore wouldn't be able to do an honest interview if he were to sit down with mueller. first of all, is that a good defense? >> its not. the entire justice system is predicated on a notion that individuals tell the truth under oath. so the idea that investigators would say, well, he's not going to tell the truth so we're going to leave this be. that's not how it works. president trump can assert his fifth amendment right to not incriminate himself and suffer the political consequences of that, but there's information that robert mueller needs about donald trump's mental state whenever he undertook certain action that's he could only get from that interview. i do think there's a larger question here which is what does it mean that the president of
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the united states is incapable of telling the truth? what does that mean for our allies? the whole idea, the whole idea of this democracy is that the people get information and then we make choices about our government based on that information? if we have a president that can't tell the truth on even the most basic and serious matters, i really do think this raises pretty profound questions about how exactly the democratic process is supposed to function. >> and there's another excerpt in the book. i want you to weigh in, the president berated his current attorney rudy giuliani after giuliani during the campaign went on a sunday talk show to defend the president in the aftermath of the "access hollywood" video tape that was released, the president said this to rudy giuliani, rudy, you're a baby. i've never seen a worse defense of me in my life. they took your diaper off right there. you're like a little baby that needed to be changed. when are you going to be a man. >> we've seen before that loyalty to the president is entirely a one-way street and in
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his willingness to go after -- to see fault in his stars, not in himself, in his defenders rather than in his own behavior is bottomless. what is new and -- you and i have seen a lot of bob woodward books over every president since nixon, i believe. maybe not carter. there's been a woodward book and its not unusual to get a sense of chaos in an administration or they're stabbing each other behind closed doors. what's different here is the extent to which people in the administration are questioning the basic capacity of the president, whether its talking about him with an understanding of a fifth grader or saying he cannot tell the truth, that is, i think qualitatively different than what we have seen in these books before that have edged in that direction but this portrait if, in fact, borne out by the full book is something different and one that will give accentuate the concerns of voters who believe that their needs to be more of a check on
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tlump. >> i want to put a graphic on the screen. you see some of the things in this book that the president of the united states says about some of the top officials current and former, jeff sessions, the attorney general of the united states, according to the book is mentally retarded, he's a dumb southerner. reince priebus the former white house chief-of-staff is a little rat. rudy giuliani the current lawyer is a little baby that needs to be changed, h.r. mcmaster, the former national security adviser wears suits like a beer salesman, and the commerce secretary wilbur ross, he tells him, its past your time to come up with any ideas. >> let me get this straight, the news in this book is that the president has the temperament of a fourth grader, the judgment of a third grader and the intellect of fifth grader. the president's got another couple years before he runs again. there's a lot of former on this. every time they go out in public they're going to be asked, was
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it true or not and the second most significant thing, bob woodward's not stupid. when they go out and speak in public, i guarantee he's got some transcripts, if they lie, he's going to say on whatever it is, march 23rd, 2017, that's exactly what you said. i think some of these people are going to be trapped if they try to get out of it. the president -- >> in that conversation that the president had with bob woodward after bob woodward basically finished the book in early august, the president said i would have loved to do an interview, but nobody told me. blah, blah, blah. he said i called everybody, i called kellyanne conway, i called the principal deputy white house press secretary, ra shah, who is that? this is unbelievable. >> its absolutely unbelievable and one of the challenges the white house is going to have in pushing back against this book is the president is on tape telling bob woodward i think you're fair and a widely
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respected journalist. he says he reached out to six people to arrange an interview with the president. the president said you never reached out it me and actually lindsey graham did tell me you were seeking an interview with me. i think that unlike michael wolff's book where they were able to try and discredit some portions of it, over here you have woodward saying that he has actual recordings and receipts. its worth noting, it also underscores that people are just at the whims of an impulsive president. the president of the united states is the problem himself. >> if the situation is actually as dire as described in these books, why aren't these officials not out in public? >> the answer is today. the answer is today. for all of this erratic behavior and volatile behavior, the president and this administration has been systematically moving policy to the right across an entire range of issues symbolized today by a fifth conservative supreme court that could cement the majority
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for the next 15 years or so and that ultimately this is the bargain that so many in the republican party are making. they have these concerns privately about what the president is doing but he won and its giving them the power to do what they want and they're biting their lip even if they know better. >> the president says nobody told me. i didn't know about the interview request but woodward tells the president, i had lunch with kellyanne conway, the counselor to the president and we discussed the book and we discussed the need for an interview. is anyone really going to believe that kellyanne conway never went to the president and said woodward's doing a book and wants to do an interview with you. that's what the president is saying. stick around, bob woodward reveals what may be the most frustrating job in washington, managing the president of the united states. dream abode. -right away, i could tell his priorities were a little unorthodox. -keep going. stop. a little bit down. stop. back up again. is this adequate sunlight for a komodo dragon?
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breaking news. excerpts from fear, bob woodward's new book on the trump white house, paint a devastating picture of a president who can't be controlled or managed. cnn's brian todd is here. tell us more about some of the most glaring examples. >> wolf, the most glaring and disturbing examples, according to the woodward book are the president's lawyer, trying to get mr. trump to practice testifying before robert mueller, then the lawyer throwing up his hands and telling the president, don't testify. they include key advisers in desperation, reportedly stealing papers off the president's desk, just so he wouldn't risk u.s. national security. but through all of this, according to woodward, and according to people we've spoken to, there is really no one who
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has been able to truly manage donald trump. in one of his many moments of frustration with his boss, white house chief of staff, john kelly, simply could not contain his anger any longer. at a staff meeting in his office, kelly said of president trump, quote, he's an idiot. it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. he's gone off the rails. we are in crazy town. one of several explosive excerpts from bob woodward's new book, "fear: trump in the white house" which illustrates a president who seemingly cannot be managed. >> we're all finding out our worst fears are true. that the president is more like a king baby. this guy who is having tantrums and refusing to learn anything, and just not growing up. and we all hoped he would grow into the job and clearly he's not. >> reporter: tonight john kelly denies calling the president an idiot and called the woodward book bs. but reports of trump's lack of
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manageability stretch back to his years as a business mogul, according to one former top exec. >> he lives in his own world where he knows everything, nobody else knows anything. he really doesn't seek counsel. >> reporter: even when he has some of the best counsel. woodward's book describes one scene, trump's personal lawyer, john dowd, kerned the president would perjury himself, put trump through a practice interview. trump repeatedly stumbled, but was surprised at dowd's reaction. quote, you think i was struggling? then, trump erupted. quote, this thing is a goddam hoax. i don't really want to testify. according to an excerpt pulled by the "washington post." >> even as the president is being prepared by his lawyers and people who are around him and devoted to caring for his interests, as well as the national interest, he fights it. it's almost as if he's -- he can't be saved from himself. >> reporter: according to woodward, dowd eventually told
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the president, don't testify. it's either that or an orange jumpsuit. woodward writes that dowd believed something about trump that he couldn't say to the president's face. quote, you're an f'ing liar. other attempts to manage trump, according to woodward, were even more drastic. he describes a scene where trump's former chief economic adviser, gary cohn, saw a letter on trump's desk that he thought was dangerous to national security, a letter which would have pulled the u.s. out of a critical trade agreement with south korea. woodward says he told an associate, quote, i stole it off his desk, i wouldn't let him see it. he's never going to see that document. got to protect the country. >> it seems to me like the white house staff is treating donald trump as an out of control head of the family. >> reporter: but not even trump's family, according to biographer di antonio, can manage him. >> his daughter, ivanka, doesn't have the influence people wish she had. i don't think his wife melania does, and certainly jared
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kushner does not. so there is no one in donald trump's orbit who can actually exert any gravity on him. >> reporter: tonight, former trump lawyer, john dowd, denies referring to the president as a liar and dowd says that he never said that the president was likely to end up in an orange jumpsuit. president trump himself is denying that gary cohn ever stole papers from his desk, and says that woodward has produced, quote, just another bad book. trump's press secretary, sarah sanders, says the woodward book is, quote, nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees told to make the president look bad. wolf? >> brian, how have the president's aides been at managing his tweets? >> wolf, according to woodward's accounts and previous cnn reporting, not very good at all. woodward says that trump's national security leaders warned him that twitter could, quote, get us into a war. they tried to form a twitter committee to vet his tweets, but none of that has worked. trump, according to woodward, considered himself the ernest
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hemingway of 140 characters back when twitter had that character limit. >> brian todd, reporting for us. thank you. coming up, breaking news. a devastating picture of chaos and dysfunction inside the trump white house. quotes members of the president's inner circle as calling him an idiot and liar and describe steps they allegedly took to keep him from harming national security. now the white house is hitting back. oh good, you're awake! finally. you're still here? come on, denise. we're voya! we stay with you to and through retirement... with solutions to help provide income throughout. i get that voya is with me through retirement, i'm just surprised it means in my kitchen. oh. so, that means no breakfast? i said there might be breakfast. i was really looking forward to breakfast. i know... voya. helping you to and through retirement.
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happening now. breaking news. off the rails. a new book by journalist bob woodward reveals how worried white house staffers are about president trump's erratic behavior and pattern of lying. his chief of staff is quoted as calling the president an idiot and unhinged and warning, quote, we're in crazytown. orange jumpsuit? woodward's book says the president's lawyer, john dowd, rehearsed the potential mueller interview with the president, but it went so badly that donald warned, and i'm quoting now, don't testify. it's either that or an orange jumpsuit. sixth grader. woodward's book also has defense secretary jim mattis describing president trump as having the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader who had to be told that the u.s. needs troops in south korea to prevent world war iii. and supreme fight. the senate judiciary committee breaks d


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