President Donald Trump attacked top military generals as “a bunch of pussies” and “stupid” for their defense of NATO and other alliances with foriegn countries, according to newly released excerpts of author Bob Woodward new book on the Trump presidency.
The accusations come after days of turmoil surrounding Trump’s relationship with the military, following a news report from The Atlantic quoting anonymous administration sources who said the president referred to military members as “suckers” and “losers” for risking their lives to defend the country.
The new accusations — included in Woodward’s new book, excerpts of which were released to the Washington Post and CNN — also include comments from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calling the president “dangerous” and without a “moral compass.”
The White House in recent days has repeatedly pushed back on accusations that Trump doesn’t care for or is dismissive towards members of the military.
Throughout the weekend, Trump cited multiple achievements on military issues — defense budget boost in recent years, creation of the Space Force, approval of the annual military pay raise — as evidence he is focused on strengthening and supporting the military.
“I’m not saying the military is in love with me; the soldiers are,” he said in a press conference on Monday.
Woodward spoke to Trump for the book and released audio excerpts of those interviews on Wednesday. Trump spoke about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and nationwide racial equality protests, but did not appear to address his past derogatory comments about military leaders.
According to the Washington Post, anonymous sources told Woodward that Trump was speaking with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro when he complained that “my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.”
It’s not clear in the excerpts which generals Trump was referencing.
In an interview with Woodward, Trump criticized military officials for comments that alliances with NATO and South Korea were critical and highly beneficial deals.
“I wouldn’t say they were stupid, because I would never say that about our military people,” Trump told Woodward. “But if they said that, whoever said that was stupid. It’s a horrible bargain ... they make so much money. Costs us $10 billion. We’re suckers.”
Earlier this week, Trump in a press conference complained that “the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t (happy with me) because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
In January, the book “A Very Stable Genius” written by a pair of different Washington Post reporters accused Trump of calling top military officials “a bunch of dopes and babies” for their lack of success in the recent wars.
The release of Woodward’s book excerpts comes after a new Military Times Poll showed growing dissatisfaction with the commander in chief. About 50 percent of troops surveyed said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, while 38 percent said they had a favorable view. After his 2016 election, 46 percent said they had a positive view versus 37 percent who said they had a negative one.
The growing public tension between the military and the commander in chief, coming just eight weeks before a presidential election, has elicited growing concern from some career military professionals.
Senior military leaders and several notable retired military officials have warned of the importance for military members to stay out of politics and prevent the appearance of interference with the civilian leaders who oversee the armed forces.
Woodward’s new book, set to be released on Sept. 15, also includes interviews with former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and key former officials from the Trump administration.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.