Not a traitor, but an incompetent charlatan and a bully

Cover of Fear: Trump in the White House Fear: Trump in the White House

Bob Woodward
Simon and Schuster, £20
(Buy at Amazon)

Journalist Bob Woodward has made a name for himself in recent years with his series of dramatised narratives examining key moments in the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies. His latest tells the story so far of the Trump presidency.

Trump does not come out of it well. The book portrays him as fickle, egoistical and uninterested in (and clueless about) the foreign and trade policy details. Despite demanding total loyalty, and taking any disagreement personally, Trump has no compunction about treating his subordinates like dirt. As you’d expect, such behaviour is repaid in the same vein, and the second his back is turned his advisers and staffers are quite open about their contempt for him.

None of this is news, but Woodward’s page-turning book spells out all the details, and he enhances his credibility by refuting some wilder theories. Woodward thinks it unlikely Trump was involved in Russian collusion, for example, and that Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor, has behaved in bad faith and gone beyond his remit. Contrary to rumours, Trump also has a cordial if distant relationship with his wife.

Woodward’s book may lack the juicy gossip of Michael Wolff’s headline-grabbing Fire and Fury, but this makes it a much more credible, and therefore damning, take. Trump may not have directly betrayed his country, but he stands revealed as an incompetent charlatan and bully.