The president imagined that he could do unto Woodward as Woodward was doing unto him.
A Bob Woodward book is a record of a sequence of transactions. In exchange for access and information, Woodward offers Washington power holders the opportunity to disparage their rivals and aggrandize themselves. But be warned that a Woodward proposition is never guaranteed. It comes hedged with dense, finely printed terms and conditions. And Woodward’s scoops have a way of turning out to be less new than they are first advertised.
Shrewd Washington players understand the risks of a deal with Woodward and negotiate their contracts carefully. The classic example is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan gave access to Woodward in the late 1990s and collected a handsome return in the form of an adulatory book, unironically titled Maestro. The book concludes with lavish praise:
Although his words are almost unbearably opaque, he appears to be doing something rare—telling the truth. The very act of thinking, the strain in his wrinkled forehead, can be seen in the video footage of him before the microphone. At times it seems painful. But the public has rewarded his caution, reflection and the results with their confidence. That he is the unelected steward of the economy is simply accepted. … With Greenspan, we find comfort.
That’s the reward that can be extracted by those who know their business—the prize for the canny and effective. It’s the prize Donald Trump hungered for and that Woodward dangled in front of him at the beginning of the Trump era. Woodward was spotted headed into Trump Tower on January 3. Two weeks later, he appeared on TV to entice Trump with a mouthwatering bid: validation of Trump’s accusations of an FBI plot against him. That day, Woodward made a rare non-book-promoting TV appearance on Trump’s favorite network. Speaking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Woodward poured ferocious scorn on the Steele dossier, which had been recently published by BuzzFeed. Trump immediately tweeted his gratitude. “Thank you to Bob Woodward who said, ‘That is a garbage document…it never should have been presented…Trump’s right to be upset (angry)…”
Despite the thank-you tweet, Woodward’s hopes for early access to Trump were disappointed—a fact Woodward communicated in September 2018 by releasing an audiotape of a conversation with the president from the month before.
Bob Woodward: I’m sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book.
Donald Trump: Well, I just spoke with Kellyanne [Conway], 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? … I’ll speak to Kellyanne. I am a little surprised that she wouldn’t have told me. In fact, she just walked in. He said that he told you.
Kellyanne Conway: Yes.
Trump: About speaking to me. But you never told me. Why didn’t you tell me?
Trump: I would’ve been very happy to speak to him. All right, so what are you going to do?
Part of the art of the deal with Woodward is that it’s dangerous to sell a “yes” too cheaply, but there may also be a price to pay for an outright “no.” Woodward preserved in Fear the trajectory of his disillusionment with Conway. He writes about her in glowing terms on pages 16 through 18, more neutrally on pages 24 and 25; belittles her on page 36; and then drops her from most of the remainder of the book. He tells one negative story after another about the president, culminating in the book’s final assessment, a quote from Trump’s then–personal lawyer, John Dowd: “[He’s] a fucking liar.”
Yet in retrospect, it’s evident that Woodward was still bargaining with Trump. Fear was nowhere near as harsh a book as it could have been. On Trump’s central concern from 2017 to 2018, the investigation into whether his campaign had colluded with Russia, Woodward published unchallenged the arguments of Dowd and others that the whole matter was a hoax. Dowd’s quote about the president lying was embedded in a long defense of Trump, a verbatim transcript that fills much of the final chapter of the book.
But as Woodward continued his negotiation, he also apparently revised his assessment of his negotiating partner. Back in 2017, Woodward seems to have believed that with Trump he was doing business with a savvy customer like Greenspan. Hence, Woodward’s endorsement of Trump’s denials of Russian influence—although on that topic, Woodward may also have succumbed to “Not invented here” syndrome, the temptation to dismiss stories he hadn’t himself uncovered. As he commenced discussions on a second book, however, Woodward evidently realized that he was dealing with a chump, a sucker, a patsy, a galoot—the schmendrick of all schmendricks. In the end, Trump gave much, and got nothing.
Trump had absorbed the light slapping of Fear and concluded that if only he had spoken with Woodward, he could have coaxed him into more flattery. As Peter Baker reported in The New York Times:
The president did not speak with him for Fear, Mr. Woodward’s first book on Mr. Trump published in 2018, a decision that the president blamed on his staff and regretted because he believed he could have made the account more positive. As a result, Mr. Trump decided early on to cooperate with Rage, to be published Tuesday by Simon & Schuster, reasoning that he would be able to better shape the narrative.
Trump did not understand that you do not reason with Woodward. You haggle with him, then you work him. You also must understand the risks. Woodward will adhere to the strict letter of any agreement. But if you think there is some unspoken understanding of favorable treatment beyond the strict letter, you will be rudely awakened, just as President George W. Bush was rudely awakened when Woodward followed two laudatory volumes—Bush at War and Plan of Attack—with the harshly critical State of Denial. Presidents talk with Woodward hoping to sway public opinion about their administrations. Their mistake is not understanding that Woodward does not sway conventional opinion. He is swayed by conventional opinion. So long as that is with you, Woodward is with you. Let that turn against you, and Woodward will turn.
Trump instead imagined that he could do unto Woodward as Woodward was doing unto him: flatter him into compliance. As Baker further reported:
During his first interview with Mr. Woodward for the book last December, aides tried to end it after a while, but the president brushed them off. ‘Go ahead,’ he said to Mr. Woodward. ‘I find it interesting. I love this guy. Even though he writes shit about me.’
Trump was only towel-snapping with that comment. Deep into 2019 and well into 2020, Trump deluded himself that he had found a potent media ally in Woodward. He tweeted in October 2019, “Good job, I must say, by Bob Woodward on ‘Deface the Nation.’ The CBS no name host(ess), and other guest, Peter Baker of The Failing New York Times, were totally biased, boring and wrong (as usual), but Woodward was cool, calm and interesting. Thank you Bob!
Not until August did it occur to Trump that he, the nation’s con artist in chief, had been out-conned. In fact, he had conned himself. He tweeted:
“About the only way a person is able to write a book on me is if they agree that it will contain as much bad ‘stuff’ as possible, much of which is lies. It’s like getting a job with CNN or MSDNC and saying that ‘President Trump is great.’ You have ZERO chance. FAKE NEWS!
“..Even whether it’s dumb warmongers like John Bolton, social pretenders like Bob Woodward, who never has anything good to say, or an unstable niece, who was now rightfully shunned, scorned and mocked her entire life, and never even liked by her own very kind & caring grandfather!”
And again, after the first reports on the book were published:
For years Fake stories and investigations, then the phony Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX, next Ukraine and the failed Impeachment, now the crummy Atlantic Magazine’s MADE UP STORY, and lastly, the political hit job by rapidly fading Bob Woodward and his boring book. It never ends!
As the initial reports on Rage whipped up a firestorm of controversy, Trump added:
Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!
But all too late.
For what it’s worth, I believe that there is much less than meets the eye to the most headline-grabbing quote in Rage: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
As recorded, that reads like a cold-blooded confession that Trump intentionally concealed deadly knowledge at a time—February and March—when that knowledge could have saved lives. But you can reach that conclusion only if you believe that Trump knows things the way fully rational people know them: as statements about reality that exist independently from the speaker. Trump’s mind does not work that way. He does not observe the world and then use words to describe it. He speaks the words he wishes you to believe, and then trusts the world to conform to his wishes.
Understanding Trump’s indifference to fact supplies the answer to the question that most puzzled me when I first heard Trump’s self-damning COVID-19 quotes to Woodward. The earliest of those comes from February 7, fully three weeks before the first documented COVID-19 death in the United States on February 28. If Trump understood on February 7 how dangerous the coronavirus was, why didn’t he do something about it? It’s at least rational to cover up a scandal or a crime. A pandemic cannot be covered up. If Trump understood the lethality, he could have acted in time to protect—not the country, because there’s little evidence he cares about that—but himself. Yet he did not.
But despite the hashtag #TrumpKnew, Trump did not actually know anything. He said things to meet the need of the fleeting moment. In February, the need of the moment was to levitate the stock market. By mid-March, the need of the moment was to sound smart, aware, in the know. Two days before Trump’s headline-grabbing quote to Woodward, on March 17, Trump said virtually the same thing at a televised press conference. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” Woodward did not unearth some big scoop. Trump simply repeated for Woodward the same I knew all about it better than anybody message that Trump had already placed on the public record.
That’s the weird thing about the Trump era. The biggest scandals occur in full public view. When Trump takes bribes, he does so in a huge building on Pennsylvania Avenue with his name on the door. When Trump directs public money to his own businesses, he invites the press corps along to record him doing it. When Trump solicits Russian help against his political opponents, he shouts the ask on live TV. And when Trump admits that he lied about the coronavirus, he admits it in real time, again on television.
The young Woodward earned his fame connecting Richard Nixon to the Watergate break-in of June 1972. If Trump had ordered that crime, he’d have bragged about it on TV the very next day, insisted he was smart to do it, that the Democrats had always done worse, and that he was the real victim. The burglars would have posed for selfies inside the office in Trump-Pence 2020 sweatshirts and called into Hannity to cackle about their caper.
We saw it all happen! The president not only told everybody at the time—he bragged about it at the time. We are surprised only because we forgot what we ourselves witnessed. There’s something quite brilliant in how Woodward and his publishers can use our amnesia for their marketing. But there is something very unbrilliant, indeed ominously dangerous, in the inability of the American public and even the American media to remember crimes and scandals that they witnessed in every last detail as they happened.
Donald Trump is his own whistle-blower.
During his 2016 bid, Donald Trump would sometimes pause from bashing elites and the media to speak with awe about a phone call he had with a Very Important Journalist.
Trump puffed up with pride as he told the story to bemused rallygoers, who only moments before had been jeering at the press.
It was, to say the least, a mixed message from the phony populist.
During an interview in June 2016 at Trump Tower, Trump bragged to me about the call with the journalist, who turned out to be Tom Friedman. Lately, Trump has been boasting about Tom’s praise for the White House’s Israel-United Arab Emirates peace plan.
Like Stella Dallas standing in the rain outside the gates of the mansion where her daughter is getting married, Donald Trump has always had his nose pressed up against the window of the elites.
“For a man who has risen to the highest office on the planet, President Trump radiates insecurity,” former Ambassador Kim Darroch wrote to his colleagues in London, in a leaked cable.
Steve Bannon once told me that Trump was much more concerned about CNN’s coverage than Fox’s. Trump was not seeking affirmation from the nighttime slate of Fox knuckleheads; they were in the bag. Unserious though he may be, Trump covets praise from serious people. And serious Sean Hannity is not.
Fresh off his win in 2016, he was eager to come talk to The New York Times. I’ve never seen Trump happier than in that hour with the “failing” New York Times. (He even got to upbraid me in front of my boss.) As we wrapped up, he told the assembled editors, reporters and Times brass: “It’s a great honor. I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along.”
That same eager tone was echoed in the audio of Bob Woodward’s tapes with Trump, as the president warmly spoke the name “Bob” again and again, yearning for acceptance from the very establishment that he had denounced to win the Oval Office.
Even though Woodward keeps writing books about Trump with titles that sound like Hitchcock horror flicks — first “Fear” and now “Rage” — Trump somehow thought he could win over the pillar of the Washington establishment.
“I brought something that I’ve never shown to anybody,” the president told the writer in December 2019. “I’m going to show it to you. I’ll get you something that’s sort of cool.”
He had an aide bring photos of him with Kim Jong-un, including some capturing the moment when the two leaders stepped over the line between North and South Korea.
“Pretty cool,” Trump gushed. “You know? Pretty cool. Right?” He added, “I mean, they’re cool pictures when you — you know, when you talk about iconic pictures, how about that?”
In a later interview, he gave Woodward a poster-size picture of himself and Kim, saying: “I don’t even know why I’m giving it to you. That’s my only one.” He trumpeted about Kim: “He never smiled before. I’m the only one he smiles with.”
Trump also bragged to the man who helped break the Watergate story, which sparked an impeachment inquiry, that he handled impeachment with more aplomb than his predecessors.
“Nixon was in a corner with his thumb in his mouth,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton took it very, very hard. I don’t.”
Woodward once told me that every president gets the psychoanalyst he deserves.
But at least with Nixon, Woodward had to follow the money to expose the venality. With Donald Trump, he simply had to turn on a recorder.
Trump is his own whistle-blower.
As The Times’s Nick Confessore put it on MSNBC: “Trump is the first candidate for president to launch an October surprise against himself. It’s as if Nixon sent the Nixon tapes to Woodward in an envelope by FedEx.”
Trump fiends for legitimacy even as he undercuts any chance of being seen as legitimate. He is fact-based and cogent on the Woodward tape talking in early February about how the coronavirus is airborne and deadly and dangerous for young people. But he vitiated that by publicly downplaying the vital information for his own political advantage.
For more than a week, instead of focusing on his peace deals and his nomination for the “Noble Prize,” as a Trump campaign ad spelled it, everyone has been focused on a story that contends he called Americans who died in war “suckers” and “losers.”
Trump desperately wants approval even as he seems relentlessly driven to prove he’s not worthy of it.
He may be ludicrously un-self-aware, but even he sensed that his tango with Woodward would end badly. It was fun for a while, bro-ing out in the Oval with his fellow septuagenarian big shot, batting around the finer points of white privilege. But it could not last.
“You’re probably going to screw me,” the president told the writer. “You know, because that’s the way it goes.”
Even so, the unreflective Narcissus will never drag himself away from his reflecting pool. You know, because that’s the way it goes.
If Donald Trump possessed a soul, a trace of conscience or character, he would resign the Presidency. He will not resign the Presidency.
Trump is who he has always been, and the details that we learn with every passing day merely fill in the portrait with sharper focus and more lurid colors. The man who lied about the nature of the novel coronavirus to the American people (but confided in Bob Woodward) is the same man who, as a real-estate huckster, used to say that the best way to hype a new building was to “just give them the old Trump bullshit.” Deception is his brand.
It is hard to identify a constituency that Trump has not betrayed. A self-proclaimed populist, his greatest legislative triumph was a gargantuan tax cut for the wealthy. (“You all just got a lot richer,” he told his cronies at Mar-a-Lago.) A self-proclaimed champion of the military, he reportedly says “my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies” and refers to fallen American soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” His lies and expressions of contempt are so routine, so numerous, that we grow inured to their gravity and even forget that only recently he was impeached in the House of Representatives, avoiding conviction thanks only to a conscience-free Republican majority in the Senate. Trump’s lack of stability is so pronounced that he inspires nightmares in his closest aides. As we learn from “Rage,” Woodward’s new book, Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, was so concerned that the President would set off a nuclear confrontation with North Korea that Mattis slept in his clothes in case he had to race to the Pentagon or the White House in the middle of the night. In his interviews with Woodward, Trump seems so hungry for approbation that, like a child, he spills news of a secret weapons system––“We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.” (This weapons system is presumably different from the hypersonic “super duper” missile that Trump hinted at in May.)
The polls show Joe Biden ahead, but there is no question that the election could go either way. As he proves almost daily, Trump is capable of saying or doing anything to win. And if he doesn’t win, the presumption that he will hand over power without some sort of duplicity is far from assured. And yet the dismissive reaction on Fox News to the revelations in Woodward’s book was telling. On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were all smug laughter as they tried to describe the excerpts from Woodward’s book as so much irrelevance and hokum and to redirect attention to all the many devilish ways that Biden was describing the country as “evil” and “racist.” And, by the way, Ingraham said, there’s another book that you really ought to read! “Obsession: Inside the Washington Establishment’s Never-Ending War on Trump,” by Byron York, a Fox contributor and correspondent for the Washington Examiner.
Trump’s Presidency has been appalling––but not unpredictably so. That he would bring misery and division to this country should have been obvious from the start. Flagrantly corrupt and instinctually autocratic, he immediately set about threatening democratic values and the rule of law, while encouraging autocrats abroad and white nationalists at home. He has aroused hatred for the free press and slimed the patriotism of everyone from John McCain to John Lewis. It is a painful thing to say, but the evidence assaults us daily: Trump is a miserable human being. Ask his sister, a retired federal judge; in a taped conversation with the President’s niece, she refers to him as “cruel.” It is the rare adviser or satrap who leaves the White House and does not hasten to write a memoir or speak to the press with the intention of sounding a common alarm, that Trump poses a threat to national security even more profound than the news-weary public can imagine. Woodward reports that the former director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, came to believe, more and more, that the Russians had something on Trump. “How else to explain the President’s behavior?” Woodward writes. “Coats could see no other explanation.”
“So you just had to deal with it,” Woodward quotes Mattis as saying, about the situation inside Trump’s White House. “It was, how do you govern this country and try to keep this experiment alive for one more year?” Mattis says he resigned only when Trump went “beyond stupid to felony stupid” and made an abrupt decision to withdraw troops fighting isis.
Trump’s reaction to the book has been Trumpian. He gave Woodward eighteen interviews, often calling Woodward at home at night just to deepen the hole he began to dig at more formal sessions in the Oval Office. Woodward taped the conversations with the President’s knowledge. But, as a way to cover all bases, Trump tweeted last month, “The Bob Woodward book will be a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been.” And, of course, he has now tried to pick at the critical thread that the reporter should have published his remarks about the dangers of covid-19 earlier. “Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”
The executive in charge of saving lives was, and is, Donald Trump, not Bob Woodward. And the President’s delays and denials insured that the American response, compared with that of other nations, would be tragic. William Haseltine, the chairman and president of access Health International and a world-renowned biologist, told CNN, “How many people could have been saved out of the hundred and ninety thousand who have died? My guess is a hundred and eighty thousand of those. We have killed a hundred and eighty thousand of our fellow-Americans because we have not been honest with the truth.”
With just two months remaining before the election, it is obvious that Trump, seemingly unable to expand his base and, according to a recent report in the Times, running short on money and the ability to blanket the battleground states with ads, will stick with the ugliest tactics available to him. And, in doing so, he is making the calculation that a decisive segment of the electorate will be attracted to his appeals to racism and fear.
Trump is not unique in such tactical thinking. In November, 1971, Richard Nixon was concerned about two things: his reëlection campaign and, at least fleetingly, the publication of Philip Roth’s “Our Gang,” a withering satire of the Nixon Administration. It hardly mattered to Nixon that the people most likely to read “Our Gang” were probably not in the undecided camp. In a White House meeting, Nixon asked his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, about the plot of Roth’s book. After Haldeman patiently ran through the Swiftian plot mechanics for the President, Nixon got to the point:
The two men ponder this. Then they edge up to an interesting conclusion.
As it happened, Nixon did not need to resort to Jew-baiting or race-baiting on the campaign trail. He was always far ahead in the polls against George McGovern and ended up winning everywhere but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Early in his term, there were moments when Trump would seemingly abandon his customary venom and wildness and do something ordinary, such as read a bland speech from a prepared text. The spectacle would be so striking that we’d hear commentators say such things as, “This is the night that Donald Trump became President of the United States.” Meaning that there was half a chance that he would now behave somewhere within the bounds of sanity and decency. There was never any chance of that happening. Trump is who he has always been. The rest is details. And he is not going anywhere until he’s compelled to do so.
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all right please john yes thank you mr president why did you lie to the american people and why should we trust what you have to say terrible question and the phraseology i didn’t lie what i said is we have to be calm we can’t be panicked i knew that the tapes were these were a series of phone calls that we had mostly phone calls and bob woodward is somebody that i respect just from hearing the name for many many years not knowing too much about his work not caring about his work but i thought it would be interesting to talk to him for a period of you know calls so we did that i don’t know if it’s good or bad i don’t even know if the book is good or bad but certainly if he thought that was a bad statement he would have reported it because he thinks that you know you don’t want to have anybody that is going to suffer medically because of some fact and he didn’t report it because he didn’t think it was bad nobody thought it was wait a minute women and your question the way you phrase that is such a disgrace it’s a disgrace to abc television network it’s a disgrace to your employer and that’s the answer you ready because you think i i love you said him or something in the flu and then you went out and told the american public that this was just like the flu let me tell you we’ve had one year you told everybody else something else no and five times right five times do you ever hear the expression five times we’ve had flu years where we lost a hundred thousand people the flu is a very serious problem for this country also and we’ve been losing them scott what kind of a number have we lost over the years with fluz into the hundreds of thousands well i mean the the last five years have been something like 35 to 80 000 per year every year even with antiviral drugs flu is a very serious problem also this is worse than the most friendly deadlier than the most strenuous flu okay and then you went out and said it’s just like the flu what i went out and said is very simple listen what i went out and said is very simple i want to show a level of confidence and i want to show strength as a leader and i want to show that our country is going to be fine one way the other whether we lose one person we shouldn’t lose any because this shouldn’t have happened this is china’s fault this is nobody’s fault but china china should not have allowed it to happen whether you have a one person 180 000 people or two and a half or three million people which it could have been very seriously if we didn’t make the moves and when you look at the opposition where they said oh why did he put the ban on dr fauci said we saved hundreds of thousands of lives by putting the ban on china and then ultimately putting the ban on europe there was no lie here what we’re doing is we’re leading and we’re leading in a proper way and if frankly somebody else was leading it they wouldn’t have closed it if you look at nancy pelosi you look at cuomo you look at de blasio you look at biden months later they said there’s no problem they’re talking about me months later and before any statement was made you have to remember i put the ban on china so obviously outwardly i said it’s a very serious problem and it’s always a serious problem that doesn’t mean i’m going to jump up and down in the air and start saying people are going to die people are going to die no no i’m not going to do that we’re going to get through this and we’re right now i hope really think we’re going to we’re rounding the final turn and a lot of good things are happening with vaccines and with therapeutics but there’s no lying and the way you ask i think we did a great job and the people that did such are generals our admirals mike pence all of the people that have worked so hard and now dr atlas and all of them dr fauci dr burks they should be respected for the job they’ve done so you won’t die you won’t downplay it again because you said you downplayed it that’s what you told me all i’m doing is no i don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming death death because that’s not what it’s about we have to lead a country we’re leading a great country and we’re doing a great job and the people that have done such a good job should be given the kind of credit that they deserve we possibly have done the best jobs when you start looking at what we’re doing with the vaccines and therapeutics and ventilators we had no ventilators john we make thousands of ventilators now a month and we’re supplying them to the whole world the job we’ve done is the best job and don’t give me any credit give the people that have done this the credit they’ve done a great job yeah phil go ahead yeah mr president you talked about the need to stay calm and not just put it down and and scare people a lot of other world leaders were calm german chancellor angela merkel was very calm as she presented information to the german people so that they could stay safe and protect their families so why is you as president of the united states did you not level with the american people did you not share the information that you knew at the time in real life you know what what uncle is doing but if you look at the european union right now they’re having breakouts like you’ve never seen before and frankly their numbers are a level that are much worse than the numbers here we are we have done we have phil we have done much much better than the european union i just read your numbers that are not good on their behalf that are very good at ours and we have rounded the final turn and we have we’re going to have vaccines very soon maybe much sooner than you think listen maybe much sooner than you think but we have done a phenomenal job and the people that have done this job including the american public that’s had to put up with a lot with the lockdowns and all of the things that they had to do they have to be given credit they have to be given credit for the deadly virus you knew it was airborne you knew on february 7th you told bob woodward how it transferred from person to person in the air how deadly it was why did you not come to the podium well let me ask you this if bob woodward thought that was bad because this is stuff that everyone knew there’s a report that i have here someplace where china said it was airborne earlier than the statements i made people knew it was airborne this was nothing this was no big when i say it was airborne everybody knew it was airborne this was no big thing in february read the reports china came out with a statement that it was an airborne disease i heard it was an airborne disease i assumed it early on the fact is there has to be a calmness you don’t want me jumping up and down screaming there’s going to be great death there’s going to and really causing some very very serious problems for the country if bob woodward thought what i said was bad then he should have immediately right after i said it gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know but he didn’t think it was bad and he said he didn’t think it was bad he actually said he didn’t think it was bad the only one that said it was bad or thinks it was bad were the fake news media because they take it and they try and put it a certain way if bob woodward thought it was bad then he should have immediately gone out publicly not wait four months you know he’s had that statement for four months maybe five months he’s had it for a long time it was a series of taped interviews mostly by telephone quick ones not long ones quick ones and it was i did it out of curiosity because i do have respect and i want to see i wonder whether or not somebody like that can write good i don’t think he can but let’s see what happens thank you mr president um we’re just about 50 days out from the election and we haven’t seen a lot out of the germ investigation yet yeah where is that and do you do you have confidence in the investigation well i can’t tell you that yet i have to see i’m not involved in it i purposely stayed uninvolved i’m i guess considered the chief law enforcement officer of the country i could be involved if i wanted to i thought it would be uh better if i wasn’t i think it’s better if our great attorney general handle it he has durham who is a very very respected man and we’re going to see what it is i can’t tell you that i can tell you this i can tell you this they they lied they cheated they leaked they got caught they spied on my campaign never in history has there been anything like this and i guarantee if the roles were reversed and i was on the democrat side people would have been in jail at the very highest level people would have been in jail for two years already nothing like this has ever happened and the term would be for many many years because it’s treason and other words can be used also do you think there should be more indictments as a part of this well i think just on what i read in your wonderful papers i think and and see what you know just looking at the media not even what i know i think comey is a disgrace to our country i think strzok who just wrote a book which is a total fake is a disgrace i think paige lisa page his lover is a disgrace to our country uh i think that when you look at mccabe where his wife got seven hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from hillary clinton right and then hillary clinton’s under investigation and yet she paid the head of the fbi one of the top people but actually the head because he took over for for the other guy who fortunately i fired i made a good move when i fired that was a smart move because they were looking to take down this administration duly elected administration so i fired him that was a great move when i fired him because maybe if i didn’t i wouldn’t be here talking to you as president but when mccabe’s wife gets seven hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions when she was running for whatever office she was running from from virginia and yet he’s in charge of the investigation of hillary clinton now he says well i wasn’t really in judge of course he was a judge he was totally in charge he knew exactly what was going on these people got caught in the probably the biggest political scandal in the history of our country they got caught now what the durham report is going to say i can’t tell you but if they say half as much as i already know just from seeing it you know you have people i watch some of the shows i watch liz mcdonald she’s fantastic i watched fox business i watched uh lou dobbs last night sean hannity last night tucker last night laura i watched uh fox and friends in the morning you watch these shows you don’t have to go too far into the details they cover things that are it’s really an amazing thing they got caught in the biggest political scandal in the history of our country they were spying on their opponent’s campaign not only spying they were making up fake dossiers you have the dirty dossier they were making up the dirty it was all made up it was all fiction it turned out to be fiction and then they were using that in the fisa courts this revered court what’s not so revered anymore because when you look at what they did and how they played it and they heard a lot of people general flynn is still being hurt and he’s being hurt very badly he’s a wonderful person i spoke to general milley about general flynn two weeks ago i said what do you think of general flynn he said he’s a great soldier sir he’s a wonderful wonderful human being he’s been destroyed he’s been destroyed no i think that this uh without knowing anything about what durham is going to release the durham report we’ll call it uh or maybe it’s going to be more than a report maybe it’s going to be much more than a report i don’t know maybe it’s a report or maybe it’s much more than that but when i look at the uh the things that everybody in this room knows just from reading about it from yourselves back and forth i think it’s a disgrace to our country and i think if people don’t pay a very very substantial price it’ll happen again and this should never ever happen to another president do you understand that you’re saying