President Donald Trump has denied claims published in new Bob Woodward book Fear that he called the US attorney general Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb southerner.”

The Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, whose reporting on the Watergate scandal helped to bring down Richard Nixon’s corrupt administration, also made claims that Trump staffers remove documents from his desk to prevent him from signing them, and that he has an understanding of foreign policy which is on par with “a fifth- or sixth-grader.”

The President was reported to have told staff secretary Rob Porter: “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

Trump and the White House have discredited the book, saying that the stories are a “con on the public,” claiming that Woodward is a “[Democrat] operative.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of using the r-slur, as a Huffington Post article from 2016 points out that the President described actress Marlee Matlin using the slur during his time on the apprentice, and was recorded using the word during a visit to The Howard Stern Show in 2004:

Trump: I said, well wait a minute, lets go a little further. My ratings are higher than “Friends” now ― by a lot. And the other thing is it’s an hour program. And “Friends” as you know is a half-hour.

Stern: That’s right.

Trump: And you know who told me that one? I have a golf pro who’s mentally retarded. I mean he’s really not a smart guy. And I’m playing golf and I’m thinking about what I’m going to tell NBC, and this golf-pro comes up to me and he tells me, “Yeah but your show is an hour and ‘Friends’ is a half-hour.”

Another transcript from the show sees him use it again to describe a reporter who criticised his business practices, suggesting a habitual nature to his usage of the slur:

Robin: No, but they are saying that then those guys don’t get a return. You always make out but the guys don’t get a return.

Trump: Okay, I know, and that makes me a bad person right?

Stern: Well, hey, no but the thing is―

Trump: I know I was criticized in one magazine where the writer was retarded, he said, “Donald Trump put up $7 million, they put up $193 million and they are 50/50 partners. Why isn’t Donald Trump putting up more money?” And you know it is supposed to be because I am smart.

Trump was also accused of mocking a disabled reporter during a presser in the run-up to his election.

Trump has of course taken to Twitter to comment, saying: “The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony [sic] sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!”

Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

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