U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated last year but his defense secretary ignored the request, according to a new book that depicts top Trump aides sometimes disregarding presidential orders to limit what they saw as damaging and dangerous behavior.
Excerpts from the book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” written by famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, were published by the Washington Post on Tuesday. The book, which is scheduled for release on Sept. 11, is the latest to detail tensions within the White House under Trump’s 20-month-old presidency.
“It’s just another bad book,” Trump told the Daily Caller.
The Republican president said in a Twitter post that quotes in the book attributed to Defense Secretary James Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and others “were made up frauds, a con on the public.”
The book portrays Trump as prone to profane outbursts and impulsive decision-making, painting a picture of chaos that Woodward says amounts to an “administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch.
According to the book, Trump told Mattis that he wanted to have Assad assassinated after the Syrian president launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017.
Mattis told Trump he would “get right on it,” but instead developed a plan for a limited air strike that did not threaten Assad personally.
Mattis told associates after a separate incident that Trump acted like “a fifth- or sixth-grader,” according to the book.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mattis dismissed the book as “a uniquely Washington brand of literature” and said the contemptuous words about Trump attributed to him “were never uttered by me or in my presence.”