US President Donald Trump, White House say stories are fabricated

United States President Donald Trump suggested on Sept 5, 2018, that Congress change US libel laws.
United States President Donald Trump suggested on Sept 5, 2018, that Congress change US libel laws. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump and his allies have attacked a soon-to-be-published book by legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward that portrayed the President as mercurial, untruthful and inept, and his staff as consumed by infighting and disdainful of their boss.

Mr Trump, who said on Tuesday the book was "a con on the public", suggested yesterday that Congress change US libel laws.

"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," Mr Trump tweeted. "Don't know why Washington politicians don't change libel laws?"

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was a collection of fabricated stories.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly denied calling the President an idiot, an assertion made by Mr Woodward. "The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true," Mr Kelly said in a statement distributed by the White House.

The book had also described a conversation in which Mr Trump told Defence Secretary James Mattis to kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his government launched a chemical attack on Syrian civilians in April last year.

Mr Mattis was also alleged to have belittled the President, saying he acted like a fifth-grader.

In a statement released by the Defence Department, Mr Mattis said that "contemptuous words" attributed to him in the book "were never uttered by me or in my presence".

Mr John Dowd, who was Mr Trump's lead lawyer representing him in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation until March, denied holding a mock interview with Mr Trump in which he peppered the President with questions about the investigation before advising him against testifying.

"There was no so-called 'practice session' or 're-enactment' of a mock interview at the Special Counsel's office," Mr Dowd said. "Further, I did not refer to the President as a 'liar' and did not say that he was likely to end up in an 'orange jumpsuit'", he added.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'US President, White House say stories are fabricated'. Print Edition | Subscribe