The Washington Post on Tuesday released an audio tape of President Trump’s telephone conversation in August with veteran reporter Bob Woodward, in which the journalist of Watergate fame bemoaned his inability to secure a sit-down interview with the Commander-in-Chief for his forthcoming book Fear: Trump in the White House.
Over the course of the roughly 11-minute phone call, President Trump repeatedly tells Woodward — who, throughout the interview, expresses irritation over his lack of access — that White House aides never told him about the reporter’s interview request. The call begins with Woodward telling President Trump that he regrets having not had the opportunity to hold a face-to-face interview, noting he had asked “about six people” to help arrange the sit-down.
“They don’t tell me,” the president told Woodward.
The author informs the president he raised the prospect of an interview with White House aide Kellyanne Conway two and a half months prior. President Trump told Woodward it was “really too bad” the two did not meet because he would have “loved” to have chatted about the book. “You know I’m very open to you. I think you’ve always been fair. We’ll see what happens,” the president said.
President Trump then offered Woodward a summation of his thoughts on the economy: “[A]ll I can say is the country is doing very well. We’re doing better economically just about than at any time. We’re doing better on unemployment maybe than ever.”
“If the other administration or representatives of it had kept going, had kept — you know, if the other group had won, I will tell you, that you would have, I think you’d have a GDP of less than zero,” he added. “I think we would’ve been going in the wrong direction. Because regulations are such a big part of what we’ve done, Bob.”
Woodward, despite failing to secure an interview, tells the president that individuals inside and outside the White House provided him with “a lot of insight and documentation,” and his book will provide a “tough look” at his administration and him personally.
“Well, I assume that means it’s going to be a negative book. But you know, I’m some — I’m sort of 50 percent used to that. That’s all right,” the president scoffed. “Some are good and some are bad. Sounds like this is going to be a bad one.”
As the audio tape shows, despite the president efforts to console Woodward about the missed interview, the author repeatedly rehashed the subject. “It was a chance missed, and I don’t know how things work over there,” Woodward said of the interview.
“Madeleine is the key. She’s the secret. Because she’s the person,” President Trump said.
The author said he tried to enlist Raj Shah, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, to help set up a meeting. “If you would’ve called directly — a lot of people are afraid… Raj, I hardly have… I don’t speak to Raj,” the president responded.
At one point in the audio, Conway is invited to join the call, in which she says her request for the author to interview the president was rejected. “I try to follow all the protocols, or else I’m accused of being somebody who doesn’t follow protocol,” she said.
Still on the topic of the missed interview, Woodward said he lobbied Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to help coordinate an interview. “Senator [Lindsey] Graham said he had talked to you about talking to me. Now, is that not true?” asked Woodward.
President Trump said he recalled the longtime Republican senator “quickly” mentioning it in a meeting.
“Yes. Well, see. And then nothing happened,” a deeply disappointed Woodward replied.
“So we’re going to have a very inaccurate book, and that’s too bad. But I don’t blame you entirely,” the president says as he wraps up his call with Woodward, who promises it’s going to be accurate.
“Well, accurate is that nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president. That I can tell you,” the president shot back. “So that’s… And that’s the way a lot of people feel that know what’s going on, and you’ll see that over the years. But a lot of people feel that, Bob.”
The conversation ends with Woodward wishing President Trump “good luck.”
“Thank you very much, Bob. I appreciate it,” the president replies.
Fear: Trump in the White House is slated for release on September 11, 2018.