Donald Trump condemns Bob Woodward book as 'con'

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- In the book, Woodward confirms NBC News reporting from April that Chief of Staff John Kelly had called Trump an "idiot" and thought of himself as someone who was personally helping to save the USA from disaster.

Woodward did not interview Trump for the book, but Trump did reach out to Woodward in August.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders hit back on Wednesday after excerpts were released from a forthcoming book by veteran reporter Bob Woodward detailing an administration beset by infighting.

Ms Sanders said the book was "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad".

Almost four hours after his first tweet about the book, Trump tweeted again, this time at 11:01 p.m. EST to deny that he labelled Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "mentally retarded" and a "dumb southerner" in what he called the "already discredited Woodward book".

She said that Trump has had the most successful two years of any president in modern history, pointing to tax cuts, victories against ISIS, the remaking of the judiciary and historic deregulation.

Trump fired back at the allegations and Woodward's credibility in a late-night tweet on Tuesday.

The book, Woodward has said, is based on hundreds of hours of firsthand reporting and uses "deep background" sources - people close to or in the White House who spoke anonymously.

Trump insisted he "never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff", adding that "being a southerner is a GREAT thing". "He made this up to divide!"

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The book says Trump's former lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, doubted the president's ability to avoid perjuring himself should he be interviewed in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and potential coordination with Trump's campaign.

But audio recordings of previous interviews contradict Trump's claim that he never called anyone "mentally retarded". "This thing's a goddamn hoax", Trump said, according to Woodward, adding that, "I don't really want to testify". "I mean he's really not a smart guy".

One source told The Beast that Trump, who wrote "asinine" notes during tapings of the show, once wrote: "Marlee, is she retarded??" [It] sounded like he got a real kick out of it.

Allegations of Trump's remarks are not new and appear to deepen the divide between the him and Sessions, particularly after the attorney general recused himself from the ongoing Russian Federation investigation in 2017.

The excerpts described a struggle by aides to rein in Trump.

Republican lawmakers appeared unnerved by the claims made from initial reviews of "Fear", but stopped short of criticizing Trump directly. Calling Giuliani a "baby", Trump says: "I've never seen a worse defense of me in my life".

"He's an idiot", Kelly said, according to the Post's account of Woodward's book. "Do you think that was a mistake, not going out of your way to sit down with him, judging by what he put out there and the president doesn't get his own side of the story out?"

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama ominously recounted the wide support from southern states during the 2016 USA presidential election.

"Well, accurate is that nobody's ever done a better job than I'm doing as president", Trump responded. "I probably would have spoken to him if he'd called, if he'd gotten through". "Without the South he wouldn't be the president of the United States". He did well there.