Bob Woodward on Donald Trump: ‘People Better Wake Up to What’s Going On’
“Let's hope to God we don't have a crisis,” said the the famed reporter and author of a new book describing how top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump have attempted to limit what they saw as his dangerous behavior. Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” describes a “nervous breakdown of Trump’s presidency.” Earlier this year, Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” offered a similar portrayal. Now, an op-ed in The New York Times by an anonymous “senior White House official” describes how deeply the troubles in this administration run and what efforts are required to protect the nation. Trump said last week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should investigate who authored the Times’ story as a matter of national security.
“People who work for him are worried ... that he will sign things or give orders that threaten the national security or the financial security of the country, or of the world,” veteran journalist Bob Woodward said in his first TV interview to promote his forthcoming tell-all book on the Trump presidency. “People better wake up to what’s going on,” he added.
In his 19th book, Woodward, who shot to fame more than 40 years ago for his reporting on the Watergate political scandal during the Nixon administration, portrays Trump as prone to profane outbursts and impulsive decision-making, with top aides worried the United States is one Trump tweet away from a national or economic security crisis.
“We already know a great deal about Trump’s mental state based on the voluminous information he has given through his tweets and his responses to real situations in real time. Now, this week’s credible reports support the concerns we articulated in the book beyond any doubt. These reports are also consistent with the account I received from two White House staff members who called me in October 2017 because the president was behaving in a manner that “scared” them, and they believed he was ‘unraveling’,” says Bandy X. Lee, an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine, Yale University.
In Woodward’s telling, President Trump does not see America as the indispensable nation; he sees it as an international sucker taken advantage of by allies and trading partners. He complained his advisors “don't know anything about business. All they want to is protect everybody … that we pay for.”
Trump has lashed out at Woodward, claiming the renowned journalist fabricated many of the explosive quotes in the book attributed to top Trump administration officials, including White House chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle. I wish the people could see the real facts - and our country is doing GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018
“He’s wrong, and my reporting is meticulous and careful,” Woodward said, affirming even the most eyebrow-raising passages in his book. Woodward said he interviewed nearly 100 people for Fear: Trump in the White House.
“They realized that [these documents] would endanger the country,” Woodward said. Cohn and Porter got away with it because Trump “doesn’t remember. If it’s not on his desk, if it’s not immediately available for action, it goes away.”
This is the phone conversation between Woodward and Trump, recorded with the president’s permission:
Trump: “It's really too bad because nobody told me about it, and I would've loved to have spoken to you. You know I'm very open to you. I think you've always been fair.”
Woodward: “It's a tough look at the world and your administration and you.”
Trump: “Right. Well, I assume that means it's going to be a negative book. ... That's all right. Some are good and some are bad. Sounds like this is going to be a bad one.”
Last week, when the contents of “Fear” began to leak ahead of its scheduled publication, the president said it was worse than bad. “The book is a work of fiction,” Mr. Trump argued. “If you look back at Woodward's past, he had the same problem with other presidents. He likes to get publicity, sell some books.”
CBS News' David Martin, who interviewed Bob Woodward, asked, “He’s added ‘fake books’ to his complaints about ‘fake news.’ Are you ready for a tweetstorm directed at you?” “I've been there before,” Woodward replied.
The book “Fear: Trump in the White House” is scheduled for release on Sept. 11. It is the latest book to detail tensions within the White House during Trump’s 20-month-old presidency.
Watch Woodward’s full interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” below: