Bob Woodward was 28-years-old when he started work at The Washington Post in 1971. The next year, he and Carl Bernstein wrote a series of articles on the Watergate scandals that would ultimately be called “the single greatest reporting effort of all time”. Woodward’s career as an investigative reporter has flourished, as well as his career as an author, with 12 number one national best sellers to his credit. He has written about every president from Nixon through Obama, and now he has written what will likely be only his first book about Trump. The book, titled Fear, is scheduled for release next Tuesday, September 11th.
Woodward interviewed numerous sources from the Trump administration and had tried hard to arrange a meeting or conversation with Trump himself, but it didn’t happen. However, now that the book is already printed and ready for release, Trump finally decided to call Bob Woodward. The Washington Post has published an annotated transcript of that conversation, and while it is too lengthy for me to reproduce in its entirety, I am providing a few excerpts. You may wish to read the entire transcript, but frankly it is mostly the same thing over and over again. Trump makes two points: a) that nobody told him Woodward wanted to talk to him, and b) he is the greatest president ever. Surprised, aren’t you? The conversation has humour value, if nothing else.
BW: I’m sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book.
Trump: Well, I just spoke with Kellyanne and she asked me if I got a call. I never got a call. I never got a message. Who did you ask about speaking to me?
BW: Well, about six people.
Trump: They don’t tell me.
BW: A senator. I talked to Kellyanne about it two and a half months ago. She came for lunch.
Trump: Well, it’s too bad. Of course, you and I had a conversation a couple of years ago, and so that I think got you there a little bit. And we had a conversation many years ago, if you remember, in Trump Tower.
BW: Yeah, I do.
Trump: I still remember that.
BW: I spent a lot of time on this, talked to lots of people.
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. We’ll see what happens. But all I can say is the country is doing very well. We’re doing better economically just about than at any time. We’re doing better on unemployment maybe than ever. You know, I mean, if you look at the unemployment numbers, you’ve heard me say it. And we’re doing better on unemployment than just about ever. We’re having a lot of — a lot of companies are moving back into our country, which would’ve been unheard of two years ago. If the other administration or representatives of it had kept going, had kept — you know, if the other group had won, I will tell you, that you would have, I think you’d have a GDP of less than zero. I think we would’ve been going in the wrong direction. Because regulations are such a big part of what we’ve done, Bob.
BW: I’ve got to go talk to people and see them outside of the White House and outside of their offices, and gained a lot of insight and documentation. And it’s — you know, 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. But you know, I’m some — I’m sort of 50 percent used to that. [Laughter] That’s all right. Some are good and some are bad. Sounds like this is going to be a bad one.
BW: Well, I talked to Raj [Shah] about it. I talked to . . . I talked to Kellyanne.
Trump: Well, a lot of them are afraid to come and talk, or — you know, they are busy. I’m busy. But I don’t mind talking to you. I would’ve spoken to you. I spoke to you 20 years and I spoke to you a year and a half or two years ago.
BW: Well, Mr. President, how can I spend all this time talking to people and — like Kellyanne and Raj and Republican senators?
Trump: Who were the senators? No, they never called me about it.
BW: Senator Graham said he had talked to you about talking to me. Now, is that not true?
Trump: Senator Graham actually mentioned it quickly in one meeting.
BW: Yes. Well, see. And then nothing happened.
Trump: That is true. That is true. Well, that — no, but that is true. Mentioned it quickly, not like, you know, and I would certainly have thought that maybe you would’ve called the office. But that’s okay. I’ll speak to Kellyanne. I am a little surprised that she wouldn’t have told me. In fact, she just walked in. [to Kellyanne] I’m talking to Bob Woodward. He said that he told you.
Trump: About speaking to me. But you never told me. Why didn’t you tell me? I would’ve been very happy to speak to him. All right, so what are you going to do?
BW: Well …
Trump: So I have another bad book coming out. Big deal. I mean, you do know I’m doing a great job for the country. You do know that NATO now is going to pay billions and billions of dollars more, as an example, than anybody thought possible, that other presidents were unable to get more? And it was heading downward. You do know all of the things I’ve done and things that I’m doing? I’m in the process of making some of the greatest trade deals ever to be made. You do understand that stuff? I mean, I hope.
BW: Certainly, I understand and I would’ve loved to go through a discussion with you about NATO, because this goes back to early in your administration and your concern about it, and the agreement that the countries have that they would increase their defense contribution, what is it, by the year 2024?
Trump: Well, you know last year, if you see the secretary, Stoltenberg, he said I believe $44 billion just last year, and that was from last year’s meeting. And this year it’s much more money they’ve agreed to put up. So it’s a tremendous amount of money. No other president has done it. It was heading down in the opposite direction. So I don’t know if you’re going to report it that way; probably not. But that’s too bad, but that’s all right, but you know, one of those things.
BW: Everything is going to be factual. And it is not a good thing for my business, if I may say this to you, Mr. President, to the presidency, or to the country, to not have real, full exchanges on these. And I broke my spear on it trying to get to you.
Trump: Well, other than Lindsey, who did quickly mention it, nobody mentioned it.
BW: You say Kellyanne’s there, ask her.
Trump: Nobody told me about it. Well, let me ask her. Why don’t you speak to Kellyanne. Ask her. She never told me about it.
Conway: Bob, how are you? Hi.
BW: Hi. Remember two and a half months ago you came over and I laid out, I wanted to talk to the president? And you said you would get back to me?
Conway: I do. And I put in the request. But you know, they — it was rejected. I can only take it so far. I guess I can bring it right to the president next time.
Conway: But I try to follow all the protocols, or else I’m accused of being somebody who doesn’t follow protocol.
BW: Yeah, well, about six or seven people. I tried. And I couldn’t have — you and I spent a whole lunch on it, Kellyanne. And I said, I want to cover the substantive issues in foreign policy and domestic policy. And you said you would get back to me. Nothing.
Conway: But anyway, I’ll give you back to the president. And I’m glad to hear that you tried through seven or eight different people. That’s good. You should tell him all the names. [Laughs] Thank you.
Trump: But you never called for me. It would’ve been nice, Bob, if you called for me, in my office. I mean, I have a secretary. I have two, three secretaries. If you would’ve called directly — a lot of people are afraid . . . Raj, I hardly have . . . I don’t speak to Raj. It doesn’t matter. Let me tell you what matters: The economy is the best it’s been in many, many decades. And it’s going to get a lot better. And the country is doing very well. That’s what’s important.
BW: Yes, sir. I thought I would . ..
Trump: We’re doing a good job. I’m just hearing about it. And I heard — I did hear from Lindsey, but I’m just hearing about it. So we’re going to have a very inaccurate book, and that’s too bad. But I don’t blame you entirely.
BW: No, it’s going to be accurate, I promise.
Trump: Yeah, okay. Well, accurate is that nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president. That I can tell you. So that’s . . . And that’s the way a lot of people feel that know what’s going on, and you’ll see that over the years. But a lot of people feel that, Bob.
BW: I believe in our country, and because you’re our president, I wish you good luck.
Trump: Okay. Thank you very much, Bob. I appreciate it. Bye.
Listen to the call That is, if you haven’t recently eaten 😉