CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House

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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate 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 MattisPoll: Majority of Americans believe midterm elections were secure from hacking Trump directs creation of Space Command as 11th combatant command Overnight Defense: Almost half of border deployment sent home | Trump, Dems dig in as shutdown nears | Flynn associates charged over illegal lobbying 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

CNN reported that Trump believes former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnOcasio-Cortez rips presence of lobbyists at orientation event Incoming Dem lawmaker fires back at Trump's former economic adviser: ‘No Gary, YOU don't know what's coming’ Ocasio-Cortez criticizes congressional orientation program for featuring CEOs over labor leaders 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 SessionsPresidential historian: Trump's actions may be 'definition of treason' if he knew about Russian interference efforts Trump admin seeks to roll back Obama-era policy on school discipline: report Trump: Sessions 'should be ashamed of himself' for allowing Russia probe to proceed 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 to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year Bolton rolls out Trump’s Africa policy to grim reception, but I’m reserving judgment Replacing unpopular steel tariffs with quotas is even worse for US energy 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 PriebusTrump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff Overnight Defense: Pompeo downplays split over Saudi Arabia | Priebus tapped for Navy after Mattis recommendation | North Korea reportedly evading US sanctions Priebus tapped to join Navy with support from Mattis 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.”