×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
September 10, 2018

"You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, 'Let's hope to God we don't have a crisis,'" Bob Woodward told CBS News' David Martin in an interview broadcast Sunday. Woodward, in his first TV interview about his new book Fear, discussed some of the unsettling things he learned from his interviews with 100 or so people about President Trump's White House. One of the most dangerous incidents involved Trump's obsession with the 28,000 troops the U.S. has stationed in South Korea, and the $3.5 billion a year the U.S. pays to keep them there, Woodward explained, quoting Trump as saying: "I don't know why they're there. ... Let's bring them all home."

When Trump was still tweeting threats to North Korea's Kim Jong Un, things got especially dicey, Woodward said. "He drafts a tweet saying 'We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea. ... Family members of the 28,000 people there.'" Trump never sent the tweet, because the U.S. got a back-channel message from North Korea saying Kim would see such a pullout as proof the U.S. was about to attack, Woodward explained. "At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that, 'My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent.'"

This is the ninth White House that Woodward has written about, and "in the eight others," he told Martin, "I never heard of people on the staff in the White House engaging" in the "extreme action" Trump's aides have taken to thwart his impulses. And he got deeper into the "belly of the beast" of Trump's White House than in any previous working administration, Woodward added. "And what did you conclude about the beast?" Martin asked. "That people had better wake up to what's going on," Woodward replied. Peter Weber