Legendary journalist Bob Woodward's forthcoming book Fear: Donald Trump in the White House has dominated headlines—and the President's own Twitter feed— this week as lurid, tape-backed tales from inside our executive branch continue to leak from readers with advance copies. Now, among the book's many shocking revelations, we can add one with local import: Donald Trump suggested, at least once, relocating a multi-billion missile defense system from South Korea to Portland.
The episode—which was reported by Newsweek, which obtained an copy of Woodward's book in advance of the September 11 street date—concerns the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), an anti-ballistic missile defense system capable of shooting incoming rockets over the Korean peninsula. The system is by no means new: it has its origins in the early 1990s and is deployed in Guam and United Arab Emirates, too.
In the excerpt Newsweek published, the President appears to take issue with the cost and quality of land on which THAAD operates:
During a spring meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked national security adviser H.R. McMaster if South Korea had already paid for the system. McMaster informed the president that it was actually the U.S. that had paid for the missile defense system, and Trump demanded an explanation.
"’It's actually a very good deal for us,’ McMaster said when he returned in the afternoon. ‘They gave us the land in a 99-year lease for free. But we pay for the system, the installation and the operations.’ Trump went wild. ‘I want to see where it is going,’ he said. Finally, some maps came in that showed the location. Some of the land included a former golf course,” Woodward’s book, which was obtained by Newsweek, details.
“‘This is a piece of s*** land,’ said the former golf course and real estate developer. ‘This is a terrible deal. Who negotiated this deal? What genius? Take it out. I don't want the land.’ The major missile defense system might cost $10 billion over 10 years, and it wasn't even physically in the United States, Trump said. ‘F*** it, pull it back and put it in Portland!’ Trump railed, according to the book.
Of course, Trump's suggestion appears to be more of an off-the-cuff idea rather than a considered strategy. The Missile Defense Agency, the government body responsible for THAAD, did not respond to our request for comment.
UPDATE: Portland mayor Ted Wheeler's office responded to our request for comment, stating that they had not heard anything official about the remarks outside of the excerpts from Woodward's book.