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Rob Porter, Gary Cohn push back on Woodward book

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn became the latest among those who have worked in the White House to push back against the claims made in Bob Woodward's book "Fear" on Tuesday.

The book, released Tuesday, contains accounts of President Trump in which aides at times paint him as ignorant on foreign policy and harsh with staff members, aides and surrogates, among other things. Porter, who left the White House in February after two ex-wives leveled abuse allegations against him, is mentioned repeatedly in Woodward's book. Porter described Woodward's chapters as offering a "selective and often misleading portrait," specifically rebuffing a passage that claims Cohn snatched a document from Mr. Trump's desk that would have pulled the U.S. out of a trade agreement with South Korea. 

"As staff secretary, I was responsible for managing the flow of documents to and from the Oval Office and ensuring that anything the president was asked to sign had been properly vetted," Porter said in a statement. "The suggestion that materials were 'stolen' from the president's desk to prevent his signature misunderstands how the White House document review process works—and has worked for at least the last eight administrations."

"It was also my responsibility to help ensure that relevant viewpoints were considered, that pros and cons were evaluated, that policy proposals were thoroughly vetted, and that the president could make decisions based on full information," Porter added. "Fulfilling this responsibility does not make someone part of a 'resistance' or mean they are seeking to 'thwart' the president's agenda. Quite the opposite."

Cohn too took issue with Woodward's narrative. The book claims Cohn was astounded by the president's lack of intelligence. Cohn said the book doesn't accurately depict his time at the White House. But Cohn didn't refute specific events at the White House in a statement he gave to Axios.

"This book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House. I am proud of my service in the Trump administration, and I continue to support the president and his economic agenda," Cohn said in a statement provided to Axios. 

Other administration officials have issued even more scathing statements and some denials about Woodward's book, although Woodward said denials by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly are untrue. 

"These are political statements to protect their jobs," Woodward told NBC's the "Today" show Monday. 

Mr. Trump has repeatedly blasted Woodward's book, calling it  a "joke" and a "scam," even though in 2013 Mr. Trump tweeted, "Only the Obama WH can get away with attacking Bob Woodward."

The president expressed appreciation for the statements from Porter and Cohn, but didn't expressly answer a question as to whether he believes them.

"Well, you shouldn't be talking about that right now because it doesn't matter. But I really appreciate their statement. Their statement was excellent. .. It shows that the book is just a piece of fiction."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.