CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House

CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE has undertaken an effort to determine who cooperated with veteran journalist Bob Woodward for his forthcoming book about the White House, CNN reported Wednesday.

Two unidentified officials who have spoken with the president told the network that Trump is happy with initial denials from chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump returns to UN praising Kim | Iran in crosshairs later this week | US warns Russia on missile defense in Syria Bolton: Russian missile system sale to Syria a 'significant escalation' Overnight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' MORE, but is looking to see who else pushes back against claims published in the book.

"He wants to know who talked to Woodward," one official told CNN.

An official told the network that it is unclear if anybody will lose their job because it would give credibility "to a book [Trump] is trying to discredit."


CNN reported that Trump believes former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnHow the Trump tax law passed: Breaking the gridlock  Poll: Majority believes Woodward book and NY Times op-ed about Trump admin Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE may be responsible for anecdotes in the book, since they are featured prominently in excerpts.

The first excerpts from Woodward's book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," were published on Tuesday, and painted a portrait of a White House rife with in-fighting and undergoing a "nervous breakdown."

The excerpts included numerous quotes in which Trump and his top aides insult each other.

Trump, for example, mocked Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Solicitor general could take over Mueller probe if Rosenstein exits 13 states accepted Sessions invitation to meeting on social media bias: report MORE’s accent when speaking with another staffer, according to the book, and described him as “mentally retarded” and “this dumb Southerner.”

Trump also reportedly told Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump team wildly underestimated the costs of tariffs The hot race for 5G will change the world we know now Wilbur Ross ordered to give deposition in 2020 census case: report MORE he didn’t trust him to negotiate, suggested former national security adviser H.R. McMaster dressed “like a beer salesman” and called former chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusBannon says right must support ‘RINOs’ CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House Woodward book rocks Trump White House MORE “a little rat.”

Kelly is said to have called Trump an "idiot" and "unhinged" and described working in the White House as "Crazytown," while Mattis suggested Trump acts like a "fifth- or sixth-grader."

Trump and the White House have attacked Woodward's credibility in response to the book, which is due out on Sept. 11.

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Kelly denied he called Trump an idiot, reissuing a statement he provided after NBC News reported in April that he used the same term to describe Trump.

“I’m committed to the President, his agenda, and our country,” Kelly said Tuesday. “This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes.”

Mattis issued a separate statement denying that he ever said or heard the statements attributed to him in the book excerpts.

“While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility,” Mattis said.

Woodward has stood by his reporting.

While Trump has suggested Woodward is a "Dem operative" and claimed he has "credibility problems," The Washington Post published audio and a transcript of a phone call between the president and the Watergate reporter last month.

In that conversation, Woodward explains that he contacted a half-dozen aides in an attempt to interview the president, while Trump said he never heard about the requests.

“It’s really too bad, because nobody told me about it, and I would’ve loved to have spoken to you,” Trump told Woodward. “You know I’m very open to you. I think you’ve always been fair.”