US president Donald Trump has said he is “the exact opposite” of Bob Woodward’s portrayal of him in a new book.
Mr Trump took to Twitter to complain about the journalist’s book, Fear: Trump In The White House, which claims the president’s chief of staff John Kelly disparaged him as an “idiot”.
Mr Kelly is also quoted in the book by the reporter who helped break the original Watergate scandal as lamenting: “We’re in Crazytown.”
American defence secretary Jim Mattis is quoted in the book as telling associates that Mr Trump acted like, and has the understanding of, “a fifth or sixth-grader”.
Both officials have denied those accounts.
The book also says presidential aides snatched sensitive documents off Mr Trump’s desk to keep him from making impulsive decisions.
The White House said the portrayal of Mr Trump is false, and blamed the negative illustration of his presidency on disgruntled former employees.
Mr Trump later complained that people can “get away with” such depictions and again suggested changing American libel laws.
The US president tweeted: “Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost.”
He added: “Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Fox News she has not spoken with Mr Trump about filing any libel lawsuit.
The tell-all book by the reporter who helped bring down president Richard Nixon is the latest to throw the Trump administration into damage-control mode with explosive anecdotes and concerns about the US commander-in-chief.
On accounts that senior aides snatched sensitive documents off his desk to keep him from making impulsive decisions, Mr Trump told The Daily Caller: “There was nobody taking anything from me.”
In a statement to The Post, Mr Woodward said: “I stand by my reporting.”
White House spokeswoman Ms Sanders told reporters that the book did not accurately depict the administration, adding that it had been “pretty widely pushed back on”.
Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani also hit back on his own portrayal in the book, saying an incident depicted in the book was “entirely false”, and adding that Mr Woodward “never called me”.
Calling Mr Giuliani a “baby”, the book claims Mr Trump said: “I’ve never seen a worse defence 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?”
Mr Trump also denied the book’s claim that he had called Attorney General Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner”.
The president insisted he “never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff,” adding that “being a southerner is a GREAT thing”.
Mr Sessions has been a target of the president’s wrath since recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
The publication of Mr Woodward’s book, due for publication next Tuesday, has been anticipated for weeks.
Current and former White House officials estimate that nearly all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist.
The book said Mr Trump’s former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, doubted the president’s ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign. Mr Dowd, who stepped down in January, resigned after holding a mock interview with Mr Trump as a practice session, the book says.
Mr Dowd is quoted as telling the president: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”
However, Mr Dowd said in a statement that “no so-called ‘practice session’ or ‘re-enactment’” took place, and he denied the “orange jumpsuit” comment.
Mr Mattis is quoted explaining to Mr Trump why the US maintains troops on the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korea’s missile activities. “We’re doing this in order to prevent World War Three,” Mr Mattis said, according to the book.
However, Mr Mattis said of his portrayal: “The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.”
Mr Woodward also reported that after Syrian leader Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017, Mr Trump called Mattis and said he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying: “Kill him! Let’s go in.”
US ambassador Nikki Haley denied that Mr Trump had ever planned to assassinate Mr Assad. She said she had been privy to conversations about the Syrian chemical weapons attacks, “and I have not once ever heard the president talk about assassinating Assad”.