Woodward book goes on sale as ex-Trump aides push back

Copies of Bob Woodward's "Fear" are seen for sale at Costco, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2018 in Arlington, Va. It's not clear whether President Donald Trump has much to fear from "Fear" itself. But the book of that name has set off a yes-no war between author Bob Woodward and the president, using all the assets they can muster. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new White House tell-all from journalist Bob Woodward, the election season’s most-talked-about political book, officially went on sale Tuesday as several former aides of President Donald Trump sought to distance themselves from the depiction of a chaotic West Wing.

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and onetime economic adviser Gary Cohn both pushed back against “Fear,” which portrays a White House mired in dysfunction, with aides disparaging the Republican president and working to prevent him from making disastrous decisions.

While neither former staffer directly denied details in the book, Porter said in a statement that the book offers a “selective and often misleading portrait.” And Cohn told Axios that the “book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House.”

Speaking to reporters in the White House on Tuesday, Trump praised his former aides’ supportive statements and again labeled the book “fiction.”

Woodward, a longtime Washington Post reporter, has staunchly defended his work in an extensive media tour.

The book reached stores on Tuesday and has been No. 1 on Amazon since details first began emerging a week ago. Publisher Simon & Schuster announced that 1 million copies will be printed, though even Amazon, the nation’s biggest book retailer, couldn’t keep up with demand. Amazon said Tuesday that Woodward’s book was out of stock and would be available to ship in one to three weeks.

Among the revelations in the book: Cohn once removed a document from the president’s desk that would have ended a trade deal with South Korea.

Porter said that suggesting materials from Trump’s desk were “stolen” to prevent the president from taking action “misunderstands how the White House document review process works.” Porter, who exited the White House after allegations of domestic violence became public, says he was tasked with ensuring that “pros and cons were evaluated” on policy proposals and other decisions. He said that doesn’t make a person “part of a ‘resistance.'”

Cohn did not detail his complaints with the book, telling Axios: “I am proud of my service in the Trump Administration, and I continue to support the President and his economic agenda.”

Both Cohn and Porter feature prominently in the book as key aides trying to slow down what they believed were ill-considered presidential decisions. A number of top officials have denied comments attributed to them in the book. Also criticizing the book Tuesday was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said on Twitter that “a number of the statements attributed to me and from others to me in the Woodward book are incorrect.” He added: “I would have been happy to correct them if Mr. Woodward or any member of his staff would have called me.”

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AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report from New York.

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Follow Lucey on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@catherine_lucey and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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