Donald Trump erupted Friday about Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book “Peril” ― more than two months after it was published and its revelations about the former president filled the media.
“It’s incredible that someone is even allowed to write this stuff,” Trump wrote in a statement.
He called Watergate legend Woodward a “longtime Con Man” and Costa his “lightweight lapdog.”
Trump appeared to be particularly incensed about revelations that the U.S. may have edged dangerously close to war with China amid his unpredictability after his 2020 election loss — and the subsequent Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley was so disturbed by the possibility of war that he twice personally called Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the U.S. would not strike, according to the book, an account that Milley publicly confirmed.
Milley also spoke with a number of other chiefs of defense around the world to reassure them after the Capitol riot, according to “Peril,” which was published Sept. 21
When anecdotes from the book were first revealed, Trump called Milley a “dumbass.” In his statement Friday, Trump referred to him as “one of the dumber generals” and repeated a previous comment that if Milley actually called China, he “should be tried for treason.”
“I never had even a thought of going to war with China, other than the war I was winning, which was on TRADE,” he wrote.
Woodward and Costa said in a statement to HuffPost responding to Trump’s attack that they reported in their book that Milley “believed that Trump did not want a war,” but that “Trump’s provocations and willingness to launch military strikes could lead to war.”
Two days after the Jan. 6 riot, “we reported that the Chinese were worried that the insurrection meant the United States, under Trump and with two weeks before he left office, was unstable and even collapsing,” the authors noted. “China, Russia and Iran went on military alert … It was a dangerous national security crisis.”
As for the trade war, though Trump instituted massive tariffs on goods from China to pressure the nation into a trade agreement, the Phase One trade deal finally eked out by his administration in 2019 is largely regarded as a failure.
Trump also claimed that China was pouring millions of dollars in tariffs into the U.S. Treasury — but it is in fact American importers who pay tariffs, not China. A study in 2019 estimated that Trump’s trade war was costing U.S. companies and consumers $3 billion a month.
Trump’s statement was posted by his paid aide Liz Harrington on her Twitter account. She posts every one of his statements, sometimes several a day, even though Trump has been banned from Twitter.
Twitter has a “ban evasion policy” that bars other accounts from being used as a platform for blocked users, but the company has taken no action against Harrington.
This story has been updated with comments from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa responding to Trump’s attacks.