Bob Woodward on Monday defended the use of anonymous sources amid claims by President Trump that the veteran journalist’s scathing new book about him is a “scam” filled with fictional quotes.
“These people are not anonymous to me,” Woodward told NPR. “These things happened.”
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, he said Trump is “detached from reality.”
“There’s a war on truth by him,” Woodward said. “He says, ‘Oh, these are unnamed sources.’ But these are not unnamed incidents.”
In excerpts published last week of “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Woodward quotes several current Trump administration officials — including chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis — making disparaging comments about the president. According to the book, Mattis compared Trump’s understanding of U.S. national security interests in the Korean Peninsula to that of “a fifth- or sixth-grader.” Kelly is also portrayed as describing working for Trump thusly: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
Both Kelly and Mattis released statements denying they made those comments.
“They are not telling the truth,” Woodward countered. “These are political statements to protect their jobs.”
(During Woodward’s “Today” show interview, Trump tweeted a quote attributed to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie questioning Woodward’s use of anonymous sources and citing Mattis and Kelly’s denials. The quote was not precisely what Guthrie said.)
“These are not unnamed incidents,” Woodward continued. “The incidents are not anonymous; it gives a date, it gives a time, who participates — most often the president himself — and what he says.”