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Trump calls book a 'joke'; Woodward says aides' denials are not true

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward speaks during an

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate in Washington on June 11, 2012. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, facing the official release of yet another book portraying a White House in disarray, told his Twitter followers Monday he would “write the real book” about his time in office.

In a series of morning tweets, he continued to assail veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House,” describing the book, which relies heavily on interviews with dozens of unnamed Trump administration officials, as another attack on his presidency.

“The Woodward book is a Joke — just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources,” Trump tweeted. “Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!”

Woodward, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose work for The Washington Post exposed the Watergate scandal that ultimately brought down President Richard Nixon, said he stood by his latest tome during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show. The book is set to be released Tuesday, though its contents were widely reported on last week.

Woodward told NBC that administration officials who last week issued statements denying they spoke critically of the president as described in the book “are not telling the truth." Chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have both denied questioning Trump’s intelligence and his capacity to comprehend complex matters, as mentioned in the book.

“These people, these are political statements to protect their jobs, totally understandable,” Woodward said, adding that his reporting “is as carefully done as you can do an excavation of the reality of what goes on.”

Excerpts released last week depict a White House rocked by infighting, and they describe top-level officials working behind the scenes to keep the president from acting impulsively on trade and national security matters.

Trump, on Twitter, pushed back on those characterizations, saying the White House is a “smooth running machine.”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, holding the first White House media briefing in 19 days, did not rule out the possibility of Trump suing Woodward over the book's claims, but she said the administration would not spend time detailing all of the claims it believes to be false.

"I think that would be a complete and utter waste of our time," Sanders said.

Monday's briefing kicked off with a presentation by the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers asserting that Trump's economic policies, not those of his predecessor Barack Obama, were to credit for the current state of the economy.

"There was an inflection at the election of Donald Trump,” White House chief economist Kevin Hassett told reporters.

Hassett's presentation followed a speech by Obama on Friday in which he called on voters to recall his administration's efforts to stabilize the economy in the wake of the Great Recession.

"So when you hear how the economy is doing right now, let’s remember when this recovery started,” Obama told an Illinois audience.

Hassett acknowledged to reporters that Trump was incorrect in tweeting that quarterly economic growth was higher than the unemployment rate "for the first time in 100 years!"

"What is true is that it's the highest in 10 years and at some point, somebody probably conveyed it to him adding a zero to that and they shouldn't have done that," Hassett said.

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