WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump alleged Wednesday that journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book about him is riddled with made-up stories, complaining that lawmakers should make it easier to hit back at reporters with libel lawsuits.
“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 tweeted. “Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”
The president has previously mused about loosening libel laws, usually surrounding the release of damaging books or stories about his White House.
Woodward’s book, due to be released next week, is the latest in what has been a parade of incendiary books about the Trump administration. Excerpts released on Tuesday include anecdotes painting some of Trump’s top aides as dismissive of their boss, describing him at times as an “idiot” and possessing the “understanding of a fifth- or sixth-grader.”
Excerpts of the book obtained and published by news outlets on Tuesday prompted denials from chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said much of the book amounted to “fabricated stories” sourced from “disgruntled employees.” The White House’s response, which was not dissimilar from others it has released in the wake of other books about the administration, took hours to materialize after the excerpts’ initial release.
Beyond the book excerpts, The Washington Post also published audio and a transcript of a conversation between Woodward and the president, in which Trump told Woodward that he would have liked to speak to him for the book, to which Woodward replied that he had spoken to six different intermediaries about such an interview. The president told Woodward that he had “always been fair,” though by the end of the conversation Trump had decided that the book would be “inaccurate.”
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday continued to push back against the accusations contained in the book, writing them off again as the work of “disgruntled former employees” emboldened by the promise of anonymity.
“I have tell you what I have seen so far out of this book is nothing of what is going on in the building behind me,” she said in an interview on Fox News. “If the things that were said in this book were true, there is no way that this president could be as successful as he has been.”