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Pence: Woodward book shows a "complete misunderstanding of how this White House works"

Pence on new Woodward book
Mike Pence: Bob Woodward book gets "everything" wrong 03:48

Vice President Mike Pence says Bob Woodward's upcoming book revealing chaos in the Trump administration demonstrates a "complete misunderstanding of how this White House works," defending the president against an explosive look at his presidency that has rocked Washington.

In an interview with "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan at the vice president's residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory on Saturday, Pence said he has never witnessed the president demeaning members of his Cabinet, but conceded that "working in the White House is not for everybody."

"I know this president has great respect for the men and women who serve in this Cabinet. And these accounts are very foreign to me. And I'm just not aware of instances where they've occurred and or where they would occur," Pence said.

Woodward's new book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," describes numerous cases of the president disparaging Cabinet members and senior staffers. Woodward writes that Mr. Trump likened former chief of staff Reince Priebus to a "little rat," and told Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that he was "past [his] prime." The president told associates that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "is mentally retarded" and called him a "dumb Southerner," according to Woodward. 

Mr. Trump has denied making those comments, but Pence said Mr. Trump's leadership style is not for everyone. "I want to stipulate that working in the White House is not for everybody. I mean, this president is tough. He's demanding. He wants things yesterday. And I think it's one of the reasons why we've accomplished so much in such a short period of time."

Woodward's book is based off of hundreds of hours of interviews with current and former officials, and includes several remarkable examples of top Trump aides disparaging their boss. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly told associates that Mr. Trump had the behavior and the understanding of "a fifth- or sixth-grader." Chief of staff John Kelly said in a meeting that the president was an "idiot" and, according to Woodward, told fellow staff members, "He's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown." Both Mattis and Kelly have denied making the comments.

Pence said that Mr. Trump has encouraged his team to express differing opinions.

"He tends to put people around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office who have diverse views. And he invites a vigorous debate over what policies ought to be embraced. Then he makes a decision and we go forward," Pence explained. "The narrative that I've picked up, in not only this book but the opinion editorials, suggests that things are happening in spite of the president's leadership, and nothing could be further from the truth."

"Fear: Trump in the White House" is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS.

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