In a copy of the journalist’s book “Rage” obtained by HuffPost, Woodward explained what was happening inside the White House amid rising tension between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in mid-2017.
As the U.S. and North Korea were both testing missiles, Trump would tweet erratically about North Korea or Kim, calling him names like “Little Rocket Man.”
“I was often trying to impose reason over impulse. And you see where I wasn’t able to, because tweets would get out there,” former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is quoted as saying.
Woodward also describes Mattis as having gone regularly to pray and sleeping in his clothes during this time in an effort to be ready at any time for an attack from North Korea.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted as saying, “We never knew whether it was real or whether it was a bluff.”
Woodward summarized the moment with a chilling quote: “The American people had little idea that July through September of 2017 had been so dangerous.”
Later in the book, Trump verified this remark during a December 2019 interview with Woodward.
“If I weren’t president, we would have ― perhaps it would be over by now, and perhaps it wouldn’t ― we would’ve been in a major war,” he told Woodward of that time period.
Trump also implored Woodward, repeatedly, to not mock Kim in any of his reporting: “Don’t mock Kim. I don’t want a fucking nuclear war.”