The Obama administration was blindsided’ by bombshell accusations in a book by former secretary of defense Robert Gates, according to a White House staffer with knowledge of Tuesday’s events in the White House.
‘They’re breaking it down and dividing it up in the West Wing,’ the aide told MailOnline, describing a frantic scene. ‘No one saw this coming.’
The source requested anonymity since he is not authorized to speak publicly.
Jay Carney, the White House’s press secretary, opened Wednesday’s press briefing by asking reporters, ‘Read any good books lately?’
He said he had received a copy of the book Tuesday night, a half-day after The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt online and portions were leaked to The Washington Post, The New York Times and other press outlets.
Carney downplayed the seismic event that gripped Washington on Tuesday, saying he hadn’t read the book, titled, ‘Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.’
‘I don’t know who else got a copy,’ a coy Carney told reporters. “I got a copy. … I haven’t had time to look at it yet.’
But National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden acknowledged to MailOnline that the book ‘was read by a member of the White House staff overnight.’
She declined to name the staffer, and said she would not go ‘into further detail about … how it was distributed within the White House.’
She insisted that Carney ‘was completely accurate in what he said at the podium’ on Wednesday, emphasizing that ‘Jay has not yet read the book, as he said.’
But the White House staffer who spoke to MailOnline said that ‘by morning there were chapters floating around.’
In a separate conversation, he added that ‘this is very, very bad. Jay is spinning everyone. But then, that’s his job.’