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Trump critics seize on Woodward book as administration officials push back

Trump critics seize on Woodward book as administration officials push back
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Critics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE are locking onto claims in veteran journalist Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear: Inside the Trump White House," which has already taken Washington by storm ahead of its release and sparked pushback from top administration officials.

Carl Bernstein, who teamed with Woodward to report on the Watergate scandal that eventually toppled former President Nixon, said the book was proof the U.S. is in a "national emergency" with Trump in office. The CNN political analyst and staunch Trump critic went so far as to demand White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE's resignation after he allegedly called the president an "idiot" and said the job was "the worst I've ever had." Kelly staunchly denied the book's claim on Tuesday.

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Another frequent Trump critic, Max Boot, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post, argued in a Tuesday op-ed that the book proves that "President Trump is unfit for office."

"If you take seriously the revelations in Bob Woodward’s book 'Fear' — and how can you not, given Woodward’s nearly half-century of scoops about Washington’s elite? — then it’s time for President Trump to be removed from office via the 25th Amendment because he is clearly 'unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,' " wrote Boot on Tuesday not long after excerpts of the book were published.

"Fear and Loathing in Woodward’s White House, Trump has always been thus; this is just the latest confirmation," reads an op-ed in Bloomberg that goes on to describe Trump's calm demeanor during a phone call with Woodward released Tuesday as a sign that he's apathetic about the book and country because, the author contends, his own goal is to be "the center of attention."

"Trump — about to be on the receiving end of a potentially damaging book written by a Washington insider with bipartisan, established credentials — is utterly calm on the recording," the column by Timothy O'Brien reads. "And he’s calm, despite daily temper tantrums over media coverage, because he generally doesn’t care about the long-term damage he might inflict on himself or those around him as long as he’s the center of attention."

Trump pushing back on the book and calling its sources "frauds" is of little surprise, given his past reactions to works from writer Michael Wolff and former staffer Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanFeehery: Are you (October) surprised? Juan Williams: Trump's war on civil rights Sales of political books up 25 percent in 2018: report MORE, whose books earlier this year dominated cable news coverage for several days.

But some of the White House's highest-ranking and most respected officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyTrump mulling State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert for UN envoy: report Iran says it killed 'mastermind' behind military parade attack Haley slams China over 'internment of civilians' in first public remarks since announcing resignation MORE and Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Joint Chiefs chairman to meet with Saudi counterpart Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' despite 'Democrat' remark MORE, are joining Kelly in refuting claims in the book.

In Haley's case, unidentified sources tell Woodward in "Fear" that Trump had ordered the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad, an assertion Haley maintained was false during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“I have the pleasure of being privy to those conversations — when we’ve dealt with the chemical weapons, when we’ve dealt with the responses, when we’ve dealt with everything — and I have not once ever heard the president talk about assassinating Assad,” Haley told reporters.

Mattis was even more direct while questioning Woodward's sources.

“The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” Mattis said in a statement Tuesday.

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

"Fear," which was published by Simon & Schuster and already sits at No. 1 on Amazon's best-seller list, is due out Sept. 11.