President Trump’s former national security advisers say he has ‘no moral

Woodward’s book paints a devastating portrait of Trump by those who worked in his inner circle. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, all hired at the start of Trump’s presidency, are quoted detailing their frustrations with Trump’s inability to focus, their alarm over his refusal to accept facts or listen to experts, their fears over the consequences of his impulsive decision-making — and one top official even suspected Russian President Vladimir Putin had something on Trump.

The book is filled with searing indictments of Trump. Mattis is quoted criticizing the President both for his chaotic process and ill-advised, go-it-alone policy decisions. When Trump says he wants to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and South Korea, Mattis privately told Coats, “That’s dangerous,” Woodward reports. “The President has no moral compass.”

Coats agreed. He’s quoted as saying, “To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Mattis is quoted as saying Trump took foreign policy actions that showed adversaries “how to destroy America. That’s what we’re showing them. How to isolate us from all of our allies. How to take us down. And it’s working very well.”

Woodward conducted hundreds of hours of confidential background interviews with firsthand witnesses for “Rage.” Woodward writes that when he attributed quotes to participants, the information comes either from the person, a colleague with direct knowledge, or primary source documents. The damning criticisms from top administration officials are just some of the numerous revelations in “Rage.” The book is also based on 18 wide-ranging interviews Woodward conducted with Trump, in which Trump admitted he intentionally downplayed the threat of the coronavirus publicly.
In recent days, Trump has come under fire over allegations he made disparaging remarks about US military personnel and veterans, which Trump has denied. Woodward’s book includes an anecdote where an aide to Mattis heard Trump say in a meeting, “my f—ing generals are a bunch of pussies” because they cared more about alliances than trade deals. Mattis asked the aide to document the comment in an email to him.

Trump himself also criticized military officials to Woodward over their view that alliances with NATO and South Korea are the best bargain the US makes. “I wouldn’t say they were stupid, because I would never say that about our military people,” Trump said. “But if they said that, they — whoever said that was stupid. It’s a horrible bargain … they make so much money. Costs us $10 billion. We’re suckers.”

‘Play on the dark side’

In a remarkable revelation, Woodward writes that Coats “continued to harbor the secret belief, one that had grown rather than lessened, although unsupported by intelligence proof, that Putin had something on Trump.”

Coats and his top staffers “examined the intelligence as carefully as possible,” Woodward writes. “There was no proof, period. But Coats’s doubts continued, never fully dissipating.”

“How else to explain the president’s behavior? Coats could see no other explanation,” Woodward writes. “He was sure that Trump had chosen to play on the dark side — the moneyed interests in the New York real estate culture, and international finance with its corrupt, anything-to-make-a-buck dealmaking. Anything to get ahead, anything to make a deal.”

Coats also felt that leaders like Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had lied to Trump. Woodward writes that Coats believed they “played Trump skillfully. They would roll out the red carpet for him, flatter him, then do what they wanted.”

Coats believed that Trump’s isolation in the White House was making him become more paranoid and lonely, Woodward writes.

Mattis struggled with the challenge of not only facing the possibility of nuclear war with North Korea, but of Trump escalating the situation with his Twitter insults. Mattis is quoted as saying he was “often trying to impose reason over impulse.” He said he got little guidance from Trump “other than an occasional tweet.”

Mattis is quoted as saying it was difficult to brief Trump, because the discussion could “go off on what I kind of irreverently call those Seattle freeway off-ramps to nowhere.”

“So you just had to deal with it,” Mattis is quoted as saying. “It was, how do you govern this country and try to keep this experiment alive for one more year?”

Mattis said he ultimately resigned after he was blindsided by Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw troops from Syria. Woodward quotes Mattis as saying the decision “went beyond stupid to felony stupid.”

‘A disturbed mind’

Other top officials paint a critical picture of Trump. Tillerson resented Trump’s decision to elevate his son-in-law Jared Kushner on foreign policy, sidelining the secretary of state early on. Tillerson thought Kushner’s…

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