Hats off to Brit here, who somehow converts a book-length indictment of Trump’s basic fitness to be president into an indictment of the people who spent the entire 2016 campaign warning that Trump was unfit to be president. For sheer degree of difficulty, it’s the finest subject-changing knock on NeverTrumpers I’ve ever seen.
John quoted WaPo’s summary of Woodward’s book at great length in his post but there are so many jaw-dropping bits that no excerpt can do them justice. You have to read the story. There’s this…
A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
At a dinner with Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, Trump lashed out at a vocal critic, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He falsely suggested that the former Navy pilot had been a coward for taking early release from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam because of his father’s military rank and leaving others behind.
Mattis swiftly corrected his boss: “No, Mr. President, I think you’ve got it reversed.” The defense secretary explained that McCain, who died Aug. 25, had in fact turned down early release and was brutally tortured during his five years at the Hanoi Hilton.
After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s f***ng kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f***ing lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.
Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.
And lots, lots more. There’s Gary Cohn stealing trade directives off of Trump’s desk to stop him from signing them, Trump calling his condemnation of white supremacists after Charlottesville the biggest mistake he’d made, John Dowd telling Trump that he did so terribly in their mock interview that he’d end up in prison if he sat for one with Mueller (Dowd denies it, of course), and on and on.
And yet the lesson, apparently, is that NeverTrumpers are idiots because sporadically they call on people like Mattis or Kelly to resign in protest. Compared to the “fake news!” dismissals that’ll greet the book on Tucker and Hannity tonight, Brit’s spin is next-level. I feel like Ron Burgundy: I’m not even mad. That’s amazing!
Exit question: Can we fault NeverTrumpers for thinking some of these dissatisfied deputies should quit when Rudy Giuliani apparently thinks so too? “If they said it [to Woodward], they should be questioning why they are there. Why don’t they go get another job? That’s the kind of disloyalty that leads to you leaving, not staying and undermining the president.”
Brit Hume says the lesson from Woodward's book is "Thank God for the people around Trump" for literally stealing papers off his desk to prevent catastrophes. "That's a service to the country… without question." pic.twitter.com/4hjHCAp6MG
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) September 4, 2018