Vladimir Putin reportedly complained to President Joe Biden about his calling the Russian leader a “killer” during a TV interview, Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa wrote in their new book, “Peril.”
Biden told Putin the comment in a March 16 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, was “not something premeditated,” ABC reported Monday.
According to “Peril,” the two world leaders were on the phone April 13, and Putin groused, “I’m upset you called me a killer.”
“I was asked a question. I gave an answer. It was an interview on a totally different topic,” Biden responded. The U.S. president then invited his Russian counterpart to meet with him in person.
The book, obtained by ABC News ahead of its Sept. 21 release, recounts the 2020 presidential election and the chaos of the final months of the Trump administration based on more than 200 interviews with firsthand witnesses and participants.
“Peril” also chronicles the first several months of Biden’s presidency, detailing his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The book reveals Biden and his advisers “hated to utter [former President Donald] Trump’s name,” and that aides avoided using “the ‘T’ word.”
“Trump’s existence permeated the White House, even the residence. One night, Biden wandered into a room where a huge video screen covered the wall. To relax, Trump used to upload programs to virtually play the world’s most famous golf courses,” they wrote, ABC reported. “‘What a f—— a——,’ Biden once said as he surveyed the former president’s toys.”
Biden’s aides “noticed he could be prickly and tough at times and would walk into the Oval Office unhappy some mornings about another round of Trump talk on MSNBC’s pundit roundtable, ‘Morning Joe’,” Woodward and Costa wrote in the book, ABC reported.
Woodward and Costa claimed Biden’s aides worked to keep him away from “unscripted events or long interviews” to avoid gaffes, a “cocooning of the president” known as “the wall,” they wrote.
On Afghanistan, Biden eventually overruled Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in his decision to withdraw U.S. troops, after both secretaries suggested a phased pullout to try to encourage a political settlement with the Taliban, according to “Peril,” the news outlet reported.
“Our mission is to stop Afghanistan from being a base for attacking the homeland and US allies by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, not to deliver a death blow to the Taliban,” Biden said in a National Security Council meeting, according to the book, ABC reported.
Biden “said he did not know what would come next. The outcome was unclear, he acknowledged,” they claimed in the book.