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“Explosive.”—The Washington Post
“Devastating.”—The New Yorker
“Great reporting...astute.”—Hugh Hewitt
THE INSIDE STORY ON PRESIDENT TRUMP, AS ONLY BOB WOODWARD CAN TELL IT
With authoritative reporting honed through nine presidencies, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies.
Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.
Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. Often with day-by-day details, dialogue and documentation, Fear tracks key foreign issues from North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, NATO, China and Russia. It reports in-depth on Trump’s key domestic issues particularly trade and tariff disputes, immigration, tax legislation, the Paris Climate Accord and the racial violence in Charlottesville in 2017.
Fear presents vivid details of the negotiations between Trump’s attorneys and Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, laying out for the first time the meeting-by-meeting discussions and strategies. It discloses how senior Trump White House officials joined together to steal draft orders from the president’s Oval Office desk so he would not issue directives that would jeopardize top secret intelligence operations.
“It was no less than an administrative coup d’état,” Woodward writes, “a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world.”
In a compulsively readable narrative "drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses," Washington Post associate editor Woodward contends that members of the Trump administration took steps to "intentionally block some of what they believed were the president's most dangerous impulses." Woodward deems those actions "no less than an administrative coup d'etat." In the most dramatic example, Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic advisor, removed a draft letter from the Oval Office that terminated a free trade agreement with South Korea, which constituted, in Cohn's view, "a potential trigger to a national security catastrophe." As Cohn had hoped, Trump "never noticed the missing letter." Woodward also offers other sensational anecdotes unrelated to his administrative coup theme such as an argument between chief of staff John Kelly and the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement union that was so heated that Trump later said he thought the two were going to get into a fistfight as well as the occasional positive comment, such as those about the First Couple's affection for each other, and Trump's newspaper-reading habits. He ends with another sensational claim: that John Dowd, Trump's lawyer for the special counsel Russia investigation, told Trump that he would end up behind bars if he agreed to be interviewed by the special counsel, and considered Trump "a fucking liar." Woodward's reporting, with its heavy reliance on "multiple deep background interviews with firsthand sources" who remain anonymous, will be problematic for some, especially those not already inclined to believe the worst about the president. But readers who trust the reporting will find this to be both entertaining and disturbing reading.