Bob Woodward’s “FEAR: Trump in The White House”

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the great worries so I tried to keep it
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neutral and repertory ‘el but fear comes
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from his own mouth
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when Bob Costas young great reporter at
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the post and I interviewed Trump two and
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a half years ago when he was on the
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verge of getting the Republican
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nomination and we asked him we were
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asking some broad interesting questions
and addressing the issue of power
because the presidency really is about
power isn’t it and quoted some Obama
comment about real power is not having
to use violence and Trump you know
finally it said it was almost a
Shakespearean moment where he said real
power is I don’t like to use the word
fear and the way it was Hamlet his aside
to the audience of this is what I really
think and it’s about this is how you
exercise power you scare the hell out of
people and you see a lot of that in the
book you see a lot of that in Trump’s
performance and life before he became
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president but there’s a clear message
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here that the man in the White House is
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dangerous and that no one can protect us
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from it yes and that and that’s the
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words of the people and the actions of
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the people who were there and it’s it’s
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vivid in scene after scene and he it’s
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it’s most interesting because presidents
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I think all of them live in the
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unfinished business of their predecessor
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like Obama told Trump you’re what’s
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going to keep you up at night is North
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Korea and at the same time presidents
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inherit a framework this the way
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business was done and you can change it
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but you can’t abrogate it you can’t
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destroy it and he’s tried to and there’s
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this meeting over at the Pentagon in
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July which is a stunner because
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Gary Cohen national security the
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economic advisor and mattis the
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Secretary of Defense they formed an
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alliance and they say we’ve got to get
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Trump over here we’ve got to it’s kind
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of like an off-site at the Greenbrier
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but we’re gonna do it at the Pentagon
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because there are no televisions there’s
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no distraction and he can’t call out to
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his secretary Madeleine and they they
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try to educate him and they say there’s
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as mattis says it’s a it’s a great line
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the great gift from the greatest
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generation is this world this rule-based
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international order and Tillotson then
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Secretary of State says this keeps the
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peace and Trump just doesn’t want us to
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sign up to any of the old things and
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just insults everyone gets angry
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discards won’t listen and at the end
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maddis the Secretary of Defense it’s
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just deflated it’s just like you know we
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tried
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and this is when Tillerson says as
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accurately reported by NBC that he’s a
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should I say it effing moron and you
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didn’t say yeah but he said it very
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plainly and that’s so that what do you
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manage power I mean that was one of the
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scenes Bob were just my jaw was on the
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floor because there you have the most
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senior and distinguished military
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leaders in the country and Trump you
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know we know from elsewhere in the book
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he he sort of prefers people in uniform
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I mean he likes military leaders and
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gives them more respect than he gives
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anybody else and in that meeting he
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treats them the way bad people treat
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Busboys and restaurants I mean he is he
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is just he just is so contemptuous of
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them and and dismissive of them and I
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mean deflating would be would be
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you know a nice word but his behavior of
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them is despicable if he doesn’t give
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them respect is there anyone who can get
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respect from Donald Trump
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well it’s but again this is why fear
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fits and it is also I kind of think from
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studying all these presidents that the
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most important characteristic a
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president can have is the ability to
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listen and grow and understand and
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accommodate reality while directing the
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policy their way and he just doesn’t
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want to learn doesn’t want to listen so
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many of these people who work for Trump
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justify working for him by telling
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themselves and presumably telling other
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people and telling you it’ll be worse if
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I weren’t there we are protecting the
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public from his worst actions and his
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worst instincts what do you think of
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that justification but it’s actually
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more in the case the the prologue where
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Gary Cohen takes this letter that would
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get us out of the trade agreement with
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South Korea you know it’s a trade
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agreement but it’s not there’s a
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military agreement there’s very secret
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intelligence partnerships that give this
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country a degree of security that people
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don’t understand and this is all linked
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together and so if you pull out of the
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trade agreement you can start the dotted
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line to nuclear war yeah exactly and if
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there’s a job the president has is to
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not play around with that I remember
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talking to interviewing President Obama
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wants about this and he said everything
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is about keeping a nuclear weapon from
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going off in an American city that is
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and he said all our intelligence
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operations are geared toward making sure
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that doesn’t happen
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and Trump is cavalier about this but but
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Gary Cohen instead of saying well I’m
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just kind he says
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gotta protect the country this is you
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you begin the unraveling and God knows
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what’s gonna happen and the same thing
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happens with the trade agreement NAFTA
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there’s a letter
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you know summarily we’re getting out of
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it and Cohen takes it Rob Porter the
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staff secretary is doing all of this and
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has told people and I quoted it saying a
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third of his time is preventing bad
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things from happening but you know with
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my question again to you with what do
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you Altima Talitha that justification
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this is an issue I’ve been struggling
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with since the beginning of the
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administration at one level I think were
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worse off with Gary Cohn gone and HR
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McMaster gone and you know I’d rather
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have relative relatively competent
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people around him at the same time I
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kind of feel like they’re kidding
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themselves well you it’s not you don’t
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get to take a college course in
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philosophy when you were confronted with
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that moment oh my god this is on the
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desk and he could get it formally
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drafted in Simon and so you have to act
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and I think these are acts of conscience
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and courage it but it’s not something
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that you say let’s run the government
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this way let’s have the president
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there’s the Trump track and then there’s
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the same track where we’re going to have
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people coming around taking papers not
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implementing the policy and literally
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and the chief of staff general Kelly has
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to send out a memo to everyone in the
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White House that says no more
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spur-of-the-moment decisions
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no more seat-of-the-pants decisions
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nothing is final until there’s a
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normal process of review by cabinet
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officers and a decision memo to sign
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assigned by the President and of course
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this could never thanks off yeah yeah
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and so you it’s a little of it’s the
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Wild West yeah
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and given the stakes internationally and
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to the global economy and the American
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economy it’s not I I would argue if
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you’re a trump supporter and you read
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this neutrally and you realize that it’s
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meticulously reported you would you
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would have to have pause yeah this
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question about protecting the country
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from Trump’s worst instincts is also the
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theme of the the anonymous New York
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Times op-ed first I got to ask you
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before someone else in the audience did
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I won’t ask you who wrote it I’ll give
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you my oh I have it written down right
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oh yeah yeah no I’m just gonna give you
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my theory it’s actually not my favorites
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this hearing that will solitaire wrote
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in Slate but I found very persuasive he
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thinks it’s John Huntsman the ambassador
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to Russia whose views are a match who
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doesn’t have much loyalty to Trump and
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whose denial was was a very non-denial
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denial what do you think it wouldn’t
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think it might have we might be right I
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don’t know but it’s important who that
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is and if it’s the ambassador to Russia
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it’s not as if it’s somebody key in the
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White House is we well no ambassadors
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are isolated also and if that person had
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come to me and said gee I’d like you to
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append this is an op ed statement from
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me anonymously in your book I would say
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wait a minute details the the building
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blocks of journalism are details
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what exactly happened who was there what
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was said what was driving this and the
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absence of that leaves me kind of well
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well use this you don’t doubt that
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there’s a real
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Hiroto I don’t because I don’t think the
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New York Times would take that chance
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but who’s that real person see in doing
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a book like this the method is to go to
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people and say okay I want the full
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story I want your notes and what
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documents I’ve gotten a your a
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confidential source I’m not going to
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name you I’m gonna use everything you
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say I’m gonna cross-check it within an
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inch of its life
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and then you can go and see what happens
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in the Situation Room or the Oval Office
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at a specific time with specific issues
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and a kind of generalized statement I
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I’m not wild about that now you know
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maybe it’s millennia or maybe it’s maybe
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it’s somebody who really knows Trump
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I’m not seriously suggesting that I’m
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just saying some it may be somebody in
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the White House who’s there who’s a
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witness the most important element in
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describing what really goes on is having
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witnesses witnesses who are there or
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have Diaries who will that you as a
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journalist or book author can build a
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relationship of trust with I mean
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whoever wrote it it seems like a bit of
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a miscalculation miscalculation in the
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way that some of the people who spoke to
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you may be feeling they miscalculated in
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that you say I want to tell everybody
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that we’re working to protect you from
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our dangerously paranoid president but
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you do it in a way that Spurs his
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paranoia and his dangerousness and makes
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him more dangerous yeah well that’s you
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know it’s it’s part of it it is what it
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is but it would it doesn’t meet the
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threshold of the kind of journalism that
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I think is really important what you
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specific let’s talk about your your
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method a little bit and and how it’s
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evolved but just to start out I was
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making a little note as I was reading of
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you know probable sources and for your
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book
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Steve Bana and Rob Porter Lindsey Graham
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John Dowd Gary Cohn Tom Bossard a little
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less former homeland security people so
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these these are not very well these
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people are not very well hidden their
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thoughts are described the question is
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and I’m not asking you to confirm that
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they’re sources but when when oh I’m so
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glad yes
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yeah cuz I because I know you give them
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up pretty easily maybe I come back in 50
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years but um but it’s it’s it’s not hard
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to read this and have it have a strong
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opinion about who the sources probably
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are people are gonna talk to you and not
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do a better job of hiding why not just
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talk on the record why not be quoted why
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not put actual quotation marks around
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their remarks well there are actual
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quotation remarks around lots of people
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including President Trump that they are
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you know these as you’ve seen people
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deny some of these things and it’s vague
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or it’s it doesn’t have much weight
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these are our kind of job security
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denials that where people don’t they
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want to protect themselves but they want
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to talk and this goes back to the
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Watergate coverage of the eighteen books
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that I’ve done involve using people who
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are confidential sources who are
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participants in witnesses yeah I mean
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I’ve never seen more ritualistic denials
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than in this case I mean it almost just
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seems like you know Trump said you have
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to deny it they go through the motion
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with a you know very they don’t deny
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anything specifically they say the books
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inaccurate or doesn’t portray what I
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would I think and you know what are what
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are they what do they expect you to
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think when you see that that you know
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they have to do that
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you know I’m sympathetic because again
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this is not
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these are big decisions people make to
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say I’m gonna trust you with my story
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and I’m gonna tell you what I witnessed
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and I have interviews with you ask about
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method I tape with their knowledge so in
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50 years somebody’s gonna get these
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boxes of hundreds of hours of interviews
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and some graduate student is gonna look
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through it and is gonna say oh my god
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that’s you know that’s a document oh
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this is a witness this is the person
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talking and if it’s a method that we
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used in the Nixon case that I’ve used in
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the Supreme Court book or the Pentagon
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books or the war books or Obama books
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and I know I remember when doing
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interview with Obama for the first book
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Bush Obama swarms about his decisions in
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Afghanistan and near the end he said you
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have better sources than I do now that
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that’s not true because but I’ve been
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able to focus on this and he actually
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said have you ever thought of becoming
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the CIA director it was not a job offer
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well your files probably rival Hoover’s
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at this point
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pardon your fought your files rival
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Hoover’s at this point no no they’re not
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like Coover’s it’s they’re not about
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somebody’s personal life they’re about
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the business of government this is a
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very serious undertaking but you can get
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really close to what goes on and that
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has to do with trusting people people
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trust in you so I I understand the
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dynamic here there’s a kind of
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Washington denial machine out there
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and during water game we called it the
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non-denial denial and it sounds like a
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denial but it really is not technically
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technically untrue talk a little bit
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about how your method has evolved since
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since Watergate you get you get your
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sources to come to your house right I
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wish I could get a source to come to my
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house well you know what other than that
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you can and they’ll do it why do you do
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that well not just the real important is
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to get to their house and I frankly
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realized in doing some reporting on this
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that I was getting quite lazy yeah I
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have people come over for dinner it’s
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nice you can’t you you advanced the ball
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a little bit but there was a moment in
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this when I called somebody from the
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White House at home at 11 o’clock and
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said you know you said we’d talk yeah
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yeah yeah we will you know the brush-off
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happens all that time poster yes yes
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we’ll do it
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oh I said well how about now and he said
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now are you crazy it’s 11 o’clock at
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night and I said well I’m four minutes
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from your house and he said how do you
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know where I live and I said that’s easy
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that’s the easy part
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okay come on over and then you there’s a
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natural comfort people have in their own
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home you asked you have any documents no
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no I don’t take any documents from the
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White House and then in the third
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interview any documents well yeah let me
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go upstairs and check and come down with
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you know boxes have documents it’s when
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we did the book on the Supreme Court in
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1970 all the clerks oh never have
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documents and of course everyone you
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don’t clerk at the Supreme Court or work
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in the White House and not just take a
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little memorabilia
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and that kind of memorabilia or a diary
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people have Diaries and so forth and so
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getting into the home is really
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important and it gives you potential
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access to the kind of authoritative
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paperwork that will it’s very comforting
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to have somebody tell you something and
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then see a memo that says exactly the
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same thing one more question about this
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but I want to open it up for questions
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and their microphones on either side
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where she said we’re taking questions
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live not on not on note cards today so
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if you line up we’ll call in a second
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but just as a to follow up that that
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point Bob well people get ready to ask
33:54
in all the President’s Men which I’ve
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reread recently there’s there’s some
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different nothing you sometimes
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surprised people by knocking on their
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doors at night and a lot of the
34:06
reporting comes through discomfort what
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you’re describing sounds more like a
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process of getting people very
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comfortable so that if there is
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discomfort still a part of your process
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there was not more but it starts his
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discomfort and then it transitions to
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comfort and that’s exactly what happened
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in all the Presidents mint I remember
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one of the bush books going there was a
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general who would not talk and kept
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nagging him emails intermediaries
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nothing found out where he lived in the
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Washington area went to his house
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without an appointment knocked on the
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door and he opened the door and looked
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at me and said are you still doing this
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[Laughter]
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and he meant it and but then you learned
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the CIA people always said you have to
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let the silence suck out the truth so I
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just poker-faced and they looked at me
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got too disappointed look I I think in
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himself could come on in and talked for
35:12
a couple of hours and helped immensely
35:16
lesson there we’re not showing up I
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think our method is driven us to the
35:23
Internet more and kind of what’s your
35:27
comment on this and I know people will
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sit in the White House you ask a
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question and they have six deputy press
35:34
secretary as well gee that sentence is
35:36
too revealing let’s let’s launder it and
35:39
so you wind up getting BS I can’t not
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ask you how do you compare the Trump of
35:46
fear to the Nixon of the final days
35:49
there are scenes in there right after
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Muller is appointed where Trump is just
35:56
beside himself and you see him in the
35:59
White House and he doesn’t sit down he’s
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just on his feet all almost all the day
36:06
going from the Oval Office to the dining
36:09
room where he has his television he’s
36:11
watching these tivoing things you know
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ha how did this happen how did it now
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there’s a special council investigating
36:19
me they’re gonna look at my finances and
36:21
and one of the people likens it to
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Nixon’s final days that it’s in the
36:28
paranoid zone it’s it’s it’s pretty
36:34
scary and Trump says you know I’m the
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President of the United States I can
36:39
fire anybody I want I I have this
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authority well actually he does I think
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the the real one of the questions
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pulsing through this is what does it
36:54
mean and I think one of the things that
36:57
means is that this is a and when I when
37:03
Trump called less
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I said this to him we’re at a pivot
37:07
point in history and he said right and
37:11
we’ve we really are at a pivot point in
37:14
history and that we better really think
37:21
about where all this is going what
37:25
who’s in charge who has authority how
37:28
his presidential power being exercised
37:31
what is the is there an oversight of
37:35
this process and it’s a time to because
37:40
there’s this contest for what’s true and
37:43
he’s launched it almost daily a war on
37:48
truth and that’s that’s not great for
37:51
democracy in in 1974 through otter Gate
37:54
we had a crisis and the system worked
37:57
yes – what’s your level of confidence in
38:01
the system this time and I’m sorry I’m
38:03
going to get to the right a few hey you
38:05
have to have confidence in it but the
38:08
system only works when people rise above
38:13
party and in the case of setting up the
38:17
Senate Watergate committee in early 1973
38:20
senator Ervin who was the chairman the
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only all that they had were the stories
38:26
that Carl and I had written and some
38:30
investigation Teddy Kennedy’s
38:32
subcommittee had done and I remember
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going to see senator Ervin he called me
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up and said we’d like your sources and I
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said that you know I can’t do that and
38:42
he said well we’re gonna go ahead and
38:45
the resolution passed 77 to zero
38:50
dozens of republicans voting for that to
38:55
investigate their president I think in
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the Senate today if you had a resolution
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to say let’s keep the colors in the
39:05
American flag you would not get a 77 to
39:10
0 vote there would be some objection
39:13
someplace all right let me ask you to
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make your questions brief and to the
39:17
point and avoid
39:18
any editorializing and let’s start on
39:20
this side mr. Woodward for I’m a huge
39:26
admirer I’m a student of journalism I’m
39:30
from Brazil and this year we’re gonna
39:31
have presidential elections as you know
39:34
next month and a true problem that I’m
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observing there’s people are starting to
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become very true believers in well their
39:45
politics and their ideology or even
39:47
their ideas and I think from your
39:50
experience both of you what
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how can journalism improve in the sense
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of like showing the facts like even if
39:58
people are really true believers well
40:01
get it right and that takes time and you
40:05
know true believers there are lots of
40:09
them on lots of sides of politics my
40:13
just temperamental attitude is you know
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be suspicious of true believers but but
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your way of dealing with an environment
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in which people increasingly choose
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which truth to believe is to carry on
40:29
and and pursue the truth and not address
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not try to solve that problem because
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you can’t that’s a better answer I want
40:41
to thank you and bless you and hope it’s
40:43
the tipping point that’s for your new
40:46
partner today one of the spawn I think
40:50
it was Eric said that you was Beavis or
40:53
Butthead one of those people said that
40:55
you did this for the shekels which some
40:57
of us feel is anti-semitic since I don’t
40:59
think you’re Jewish
41:00
except for hanging out with Carl
41:02
Bernstein could you please comment on
41:04
that in you know actually I am NOT
41:09
Jewish but I the idea that anyone would
41:13
talk like that I just you know I
41:16
we shouldn’t have comments like that
41:20
from anyone and he’s it’s it’s
41:25
unfortunate but I think you can’t kind
41:29
of overreact to it I think you kind of
41:32
have to
41:32
say okay what does it mean what did you
41:36
know what did Eric trump do who is he
41:39
and there still lots of questions about
41:42
that and the investigation so I’m not
41:46
I’m not worried and I think this kind of
41:49
taking the emotion expressed by somebody
41:53
else and having an emotional reaction to
41:56
it gets you off track mister it’s a
42:00
privilege thank you and do you
42:02
anticipate any of the people you’ve
42:04
discussed coming forward before the 2020
42:07
election it seems that if they’re that
42:08
concerned about the fate of the country
42:09
they would want to speak out before he
42:11
gets another four years well people have
42:13
spoken that in this book and it’s I it’s
42:21
important to not get tangled up in G is
42:25
somebody gonna write an editorial
42:28
without specifics in the New York Times
42:32
I think that’s not the real issue I
42:36
think is what’s authoritative what’s
42:39
going on and then there you you said at
42:42
one point something happened in the book
42:44
in your jaws and on the floor I think
42:47
there are about 10 or 15 in the in the
42:52
book a great since many people think
42:58
that Trump is a threat to our national
43:00
security
43:02
do you believe that you know GOP
43:05
politicians and flu intial ones like
43:07
Ryan and Ryan and McDonough McConnell
43:11
are traitors to our country no look they
43:15
you know we have the political system
43:18
and see that’s the yeah that should be
43:24
taken away from them okay
43:26
well that’s your view I think the remedy
43:30
is to not use Trump’s language about
43:34
other people I just I think that I’ve
43:38
you know you can be critical of people
43:41
and this let’s Jack up the rhetoric and
43:45
this fear I think okay we know what the
43:53
Russians um let’s come back over here
43:55
thank you sorry
43:56
obviously trump is still president the
43:57
molar investigation is still going on I
43:59
was wearing when did you know that you
44:01
were done with this book when you can
44:02
settle on you know also to any
44:07
roadblocks you had in this Friday when
44:09
your you had a lead and you thought you
44:11
were there but you couldn’t get the
44:13
sources to completely fulfill the story
44:15
yeah do you work in publishing it’s it’s
44:23
a great question and the answer is on
44:27
something like this you’re in a way
44:29
never done but you have to cut it off
44:33
and say you’ve got enough information I
44:36
have the wonderful benefit of a support
44:41
system at the Washington Post where I
44:43
still work at Simon and Schuster the
44:46
publishers and you know they are all
44:49
these people say I you know they say
44:52
individually and collectively we have
44:55
your back and dig into these things and
44:59
there also is just a quality when you’ve
45:02
got about 350 pages that’s a book and
45:08
yeah that simple yeah and there will
45:12
there be another Trump book I mean you
45:13
start the next one as soon as you finish
45:16
Wow yeah
45:19
you have the you have created precedent
45:21
for this don’t know if you know you
45:23
don’t know where you know who knows the
45:26
end of this story or boy I sure don’t
45:31
and so you know but we need to keep
45:36
working even when the book is done based
45:46
on your book and all the research and
45:48
experience that you have what do you
45:52
think is possible that could happen as a
45:54
result of the investigation
45:57
and do you think it’s possible that
45:58
nothing can happen in other words like
46:01
nothing will happen in the Muller
46:03
investigation yeah sometimes nothing
46:06
happens in the the book John Dowd who is
46:12
Trump’s lawyer for eight months who
46:15
eventually resigns because he’s trying
46:17
to convince Trump
46:19
you can’t testify because you won’t tell
46:23
the truth you are incapable lifts I mean
46:27
isn’t that I mean that that that’s a
46:29
sieve donnie seem like he went there
46:31
with Trump yeah yeah they had a practice
46:33
session in the White House which is one
46:35
of the most fascinating things I’ve ever
46:39
written and you hear it John Dowd the
46:44
lawyers plane Muller and asking Trump
46:47
questions and Trump flies or makes
46:49
things up or goes ballistic and finally
46:53
says see you can’t testify and Trump you
46:57
mean I’m not a good witness no you are a
47:01
terrible witness you I you know there’s
47:06
a legal obligation for a lawyer to not
47:11
as he said I can’t sit next to you and
47:13
let you lie or to fall into a perjury
47:18
trap and it’s it’s it’s quite moving and
47:23
the the final line of the book is Dowd
47:28
concluding but not one in two in Seoul
47:33
but concluding Europe liar yeah
47:39
and it’s a it’s a one of those moments
47:45
where you go wow that’s you know that’s
47:50
the lawyer that’s the guy on his side
47:54
yeah that’s the guy he’s paying yeah
47:57
yeah a hundred thousand dollars a month
48:01
which is you know pretty good for Trump
48:06
and at least he paid it for a month I
48:09
understand the rare bill he paid yes
48:14
did any of your sources in all their
48:18
months alone with Trump in the White
48:20
House describe any private moments with
48:24
him when he might have just for a moment
48:26
confessed to his deepest fears I mean
48:28
the obvious fear is that the Muller
48:29
investigation will lead to his
48:31
impeachment but fears of being betrayed
48:34
as a Russian mole or Russia has fears of
48:40
happened I think I might nobody ever
48:45
described any private moment in which in
48:46
which Trump confessed to his own fears
48:48
about where this might end up even
48:49
losing the respect of his kids or
48:51
something well no but their moments were
48:53
he displays intense anxiety about the
48:57
investigation there you know it’s gonna
48:59
go on forever if they’re gonna look at
49:02
everything they’re gonna look at my
49:04
finances and so forth and he also
49:07
acknowledges to people in the book at
49:10
times and those people are named that
49:13
maybe Jared Kushner his son-in-law
49:17
should not be there working in the White
49:20
House that there’s too much of a
49:21
conflict potentially and so but the
49:26
moment of seeing the the Muller
49:29
investigation is and it’s the lawyer
49:32
John Dowd who concludes that Muller
49:36
played him Dowd and trump for suckers to
49:40
get them to turn over all the evidence
49:43
in the documents and
49:45
witnesses and there is a telling moment
49:48
where a doubt realizes my god we’d been
49:52
had and he goes to trump and he said you
49:54
were right we can’t trust Muller yeah I
49:57
mean you you know Muller buy it by all
50:00
accounts is not his office is not
50:02
leaking so that that account has to come
50:05
primarily from one side and it’s
50:07
self-serving in the sense that dad’s
50:09
position is we’ve been an open book
50:11
we’ve given you everything but we don’t
50:13
do we know that’s from Muller side do we
50:15
know that Muller feels they’ve been that
50:16
cooperative yeah I mean there’s been a
50:19
lot of reporting on it and I checked
50:23
this independently and they did give him
50:28
they did they did give him all this
50:30
material and so you know that’s that’s
50:34
authentic what’s an interesting about
50:37
Muller in the book is he only says a
50:42
number of things to doubt because most
50:44
of the time he’s just marbled he’s just
50:47
you know poker-faced
50:48
and but he does when Dowd’s pressing him
50:53
what are you looking for on the
50:54
obstruction investigation and Muller
50:59
says we want to find out if he had
51:01
corrupt
51:03
intent now that’s the the necessary part
51:08
of an obstruction charge and it’s
51:11
actually the right thing and I think
51:14
when doubt heard this he was it was
51:18
bracing moment made it real that they
51:21
were considering the possibility of
51:22
bringing a charge like that or that
51:25
that’s that was the investigative trail
51:27
they were on but somebody you know is it
51:30
possible this goes nowhere I remember –
51:33
well the big investigations after
51:37
Watergate the iran-contra and the Reagan
51:40
administration the one Lewinsky
51:42
whitewater investigation and under
51:45
Clinton and there were mid somebody and
51:48
my newspaper actually wrote a story the
51:51
same Reagan was going to be indicted and
51:54
I went back and looked at all of
51:59
the investigations after Watergate he
52:02
talked to Lawrence Walsh who was the
52:04
independent counsel in that case and he
52:06
made it very clear to me he was he
52:09
didn’t even think Reagan was dirty and
52:11
had done anything illegal so you can
52:17
these things can get all puffed up and
52:19
you think it’s somebody’s gonna discover
52:22
the crime of the century and they don’t
52:25
you need a storytelling witness or tapes
52:30
yes if I recall correctly when Nixon was
52:36
unraveling didn’t al haig give
52:39
instructions to most everyone that no
52:43
matter what Nixon said ray nuclear
52:45
weapons and all they it couldn’t go
52:47
through I’m sure that today but you have
52:49
people like general mattis the Pentagon
52:52
as you said it’s country first Kelley
52:55
that they wouldn’t allow Trump to give
52:57
an order of any type that would they’re
53:00
real Patriots that would threaten the
53:01
United States well that’s a good
53:04
question I don’t have the definitive
53:07
answer on that but in Watergate it
53:10
wasn’t Al Haig the White House chief of
53:12
staff it was the Secretary of Defense
53:14
Schlesinger who put out the word saying
53:18
if the president calls and said launch
53:21
call me first do you believe that having
53:27
talked with these people like Mathis and
53:29
Kelley and so on that Trump could ever
53:32
get to that point but if he if he wanted
53:34
to distract something or that he could
53:36
you know they they would stop him at
53:38
some point
53:39
I don’t know the answer to that and you
53:42
know that’s what that’s a a big large
53:46
question it would depend on
53:47
circumstances and you know what’s what’s
53:51
going on the reality is though the
53:54
president has an incredible there’s a
53:57
concentration of power in that office
54:00
and he can employ the force as he wants
54:03
to I remember talking to academics
54:05
during the George W Bush years and say
54:09
you know the president can start a war
54:12
like
54:12
he has happened said oh no the
54:15
Constitution is very clear that Congress
54:18
has to declare war like I said that’s
54:21
not the way it works and on but I said
54:23
look george w bush can invade Mexico
54:27
tomorrow if he wants and somebody stood
54:29
up in agony and said don’t give him any
54:32
ideas they have presidents have
54:37
incredible power yes first of all I want
54:42
to thank you very much I just hope that
54:44
this book will help and Trump’s term in
54:49
office quicker than it should and on
54:52
that point and other people have spoken
54:55
about this what if you had to give odds
54:58
on Trump lasting two more years what
55:06
would you say the odds are of him being
55:10
taken out I have that written down two
55:13
[Laughter]
55:18
diseases of journalism I’d be interested
55:21
if you agree where we want to report on
55:23
the future which of course we don’t know
55:26
and if the future is real hard it’s a
55:30
fair question but to be honest with you
55:35
I have no idea I agree that’s
55:47
the best answer you know I think I hope
55:49
I learned the lesson in 2016 that what I
55:53
thought was going to happen with a with
55:56
a high degree of likelihood did not
55:58
happen and I think that showed the value
56:00
of my predictions and the value of a lot
56:02
of other people’s predictions and so now
56:05
when people ask me for a prediction i
56:07
disappoint disappointingly try to offer
56:09
some kind of analysis but avoid that you
56:12
know a good line is that one I used
56:14
easier to describe the creation of the
56:17
universe yeah
56:18
because it is yeah yeah I think let’s
56:21
take two more questions and then we
56:23
should let Bob sign some books but
56:27
redundant after the last one but I was
56:29
going to ask you when you live through
56:31
the whole Watergate crisis with Cole
56:34
Bernstein and you must have felt at some
56:37
moment had your aha moment where you
56:39
thought well this is where the president
56:41
is going down how has your gut instincts
56:45
serve you now I know it leads on to the
56:52
can I give the same answer this side of
56:56
the room that I gave over there
57:01
obviously time works against us and the
57:04
longer this goes on the longer a lot of
57:06
these abnormalities tend to become the
57:09
norm and we find ourselves deeper and
57:12
deeper so basically is how what’s your
57:16
gut been telling you the difference
57:18
between but you see I try not to operate
57:22
on my gut and in Watergate Carl realized
57:26
at a moment he said my god this Nixon’s
57:30
gonna be impeached and we’d written a
57:32
story about his closest aide John
57:35
Mitchell campaign manager Attorney
57:37
General controlling a secret fund for
57:41
Watergate and other espionage and
57:44
sabotage activities and Carl turned
57:48
around said this guy is going to be
57:50
impeached and I said I I agree but we
57:54
can never use that word in the newsroom
57:57
because people will think we’re on some
58:00
sort of crusade and for one year we
58:03
never used that word and so I would
58:08
apply the same caution now about what we
58:12
think this is gonna lead to that or that
58:14
the answer is we don’t know but the job
58:19
of journalism is to I don’t know the
58:23
Trump actually does read whether he
58:26
would read a copy of this book I heard
58:28
for a while they couldn’t get a copy at
58:30
the White House this
58:31
Simon & Schuster’s security was so great
58:36
but I think if he I’m sure he would be
58:40
very upset upset because it’s a
58:42
penetration of his business it says this
58:46
is what he does this is what he thinks
58:49
this is the nature of the conflict and
58:51
so forth and I step back as a journalist
58:56
say that’s all we can try to do and then
58:59
the political system will take over and
59:03
do what it’s going to do and even though
59:07
there’s a lot of anger at the political
59:09
system system and a lot of a sense of
59:12
disappointment if not betrayal it it
59:16
kind of works and that’s that’s what we
59:19
have and so I’m not not writing odds
59:24
about anything or I you know examining
59:29
my gut Hey
59:35
and I love it when they opened the door
59:39
and say are you still doing this because
59:43
the answer’s yes
59:54
let’s make the Salaf question and I’m
59:56
sorry we couldn’t get all of them but
59:58
please go ahead
59:59
good evening on the daily yesterday you
60:01
alluded to some of the events that that
60:05
came out of your reporting on Watergate
60:08
so avoiding the the prior questions what
60:14
do you think are some takeaways from
60:17
this book that we can bring out to our
60:20
representatives and congressmen and
60:23
women to alleviate the fear well I mean
60:28
that’s obviously up to you but this is a
60:30
as I say in the early and the prologue
60:34
that there was a nervous breakdown of
60:37
executive power and having a government
60:41
with a nervous breakdown I mean do you
60:44
agree this describes a nervous breakdown
60:47
on a good number of levels and it’s
60:51
something very different from the kind
60:53
of chaos and confusion disorganization
60:56
that has come up in many other White
60:59
House yes I agree it’s a it’s a it’s a
61:02
breakdown of every kind of code of
61:05
normal behavior in a presidential
61:08
administration and so you know that’s
61:11
what it is and it’s you know I mean last
61:17
I don’t can I tell one story this goes
61:20
back to Watergate but it was a great
61:22
lesson in January 7 d 3 Carl and I’d
61:26
written all these stories people didn’t
61:28
believe them in Katherine Graham the
61:30
publisher owner of the Washington Post
61:32
invited me to lunch and I knew where
61:36
she’d supported the publication of the
61:39
stories and go in to her lunch room and
61:43
and she starts quizzing me about
61:46
Watergate and blew my mind with what the
61:49
boss knew she at one point said oh she’d
61:52
read something about Watergate in the
61:54
Chicago Tribune and I thought what the
61:56
hell
61:56
meaning the Chicago Tribune for no one
61:59
in Chicago does Katherine was you know
62:04
sucking in all the information
62:07
a management style I later described as
62:11
mind on hand so if she didn’t tell us
62:14
how to report or what to do and so we
62:16
get to an important moment and she said
62:20
well when is all that forth going to
62:22
come out and I said well there’s a
62:24
cover-up going on the investigations
62:27
week they’re paying the burglars for
62:29
their silence
62:30
Carl and I go knock on doors at night
62:32
and Nixon had just won a massive
62:36
re-election and so my answer is never
62:41
and I know I’ll never forget the look on
62:45
her face when I said never and she said
62:49
pained wounded look she said never don’t
62:55
tell me
62:57
never I left the lunch a highly
63:01
motivated but the statement was not a
63:07
threat it was a statement of purpose and
63:10
what she said was look we we we signed
63:16
up for this journalism is high risk we
63:20
believe our sources and and then she
63:24
said why do you think we do this and I
63:26
didn’t have an answer and she gave an
63:30
answer to her own questions and it’s a
63:33
brilliant answer she said because that’s
63:35
the business were in we have to we
63:39
believe what we’ve got here we have to
63:42
triple quadruple our effort to get to
63:45
the bottom of this and gave a kind of
63:47
let’s go ahead I left the lunch
63:51
highly-motivated I was 29 years old at
63:55
that time and and I thought my god the
63:59
boss really understands the necessity of
64:04
risk injury it doesn’t mean you aren’t
64:08
sure it means that you’re taking on the
64:12
highest authority in the country by
64:15
yourself essentially so someday we’re
64:17
going to put a plaque in the lobby of
64:20
the Washington
64:20
post even though Bezos owns the
64:24
Washington Post now and the Grahams are
64:27
not there I think he would approve of
64:30
this but we’re gonna drill it in so no
64:32
one can take it out gonna be a plaque
64:35
that will just begin quote and it will
64:39
say never
64:41
don’t tell me never end quote
64:46
Katharine Graham
64:59
well that is a great note to end on and
65:01
and one I can heartedly support I’m Bob
65:03
it’s it’s an honor to talk to you about
65:05
the new book and I want to thank
65:08
everybody for the great question for
65:09
being here thank you about thank you
65:13
folks in the next room

America’s Great Divide: Ben Rhodes Interview | FRONTLINE

Ben Rhodes served as deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama. He is currently a writer and political commentator and co-host of the podcast “Pod Save the World.”

Rhodes’ candid, full interview was conducted with FRONTLINE during the making of the two-part January 2020 documentary series “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump.”

Watch Part One here: https://youtu.be/SnMBYMOTwEs
And Part Two here: https://youtu.be/l5vyDPN19ww

—————

Ralph Peters: Trump must keep ‘throne’ to avoid prison

Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he thinks if President Donald Trump loses the 2020 election, he could be spending time in court for the rest of his life.

Pompeo’s Lying Shows President Donald Trump WH’s Bad Faith:

When asked about the whistleblower complaint on Sept. 22, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he didn’t know anything about the call. Yet reports yesterday showed Pompeo listened in on the July 25th call. Aired on 10/01/19.