Explaining his decision to publish the tapes of his 20 interviews with donald trumprenowned journalist Bob Woodward said he had finally recognized the “unprecedented danger” the former president posed to American democracy.
His three books on the Trump presidency, Woodward said, “didn’t go far enough.”
The veteran journalist will release an audiobook, The Trump Tapes, on Tuesday. On Sunday, he published excerpts in an essay for the Washington Post, the newspaper for which he and Carl Bernstein covered the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon in 1974.
Woodward, 79, has chronicled every president since. His three Trump books – To fear, Rage and Dangerthe last written with Robert Costa – were instant bestsellers.
But by Woodward’s own admission, these books were cautious in reporting when it came to passing judgment, even as they chronicled four chaotic years culminating in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Woodward’s decision to pass judgment now has not met with universal praise.
Oliver Willis, writer for the american independent, a progressive news outlet, pointed to recent criticism from journalists, including The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, for allegedly doing major reporting for Trump’s books. Willis said Woodward essentially saying “Guys, I kinda feel like Trump might be a fascist” was a “perfect example of how ivory tower journalism fails to inform the public.”
Seth Abramson, author of three books on Trump, said“I don’t know how it happened, but Trump biographers who knew for sure because of their research in 2016 and 2017 were outscored by Bob Woodward 10 to 1 despite not coming to that conclusion than now. Media or publishing failure? Or both?”
In the Post, Woodward explained his change of heart.
“There is no turning back for American politics,” he said. wrote. “Trump was and still is an enormous force and an indelible presence, with the most powerful political machine in the country. He has the largest group of followers, loyalists and fundraisers, surpassing even that of the president [Joe] Biden.
“In 2020, I finished Rage with the following sentence: “When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only draw one conclusion: Trump is not the right man for the job.”
“Two years later, I realize that I haven’t gone far enough. Trump is an unprecedented danger. When you listen to him on the range of issues from foreign policy to [coronavirus] to racial injustice, it’s clear he didn’t know what to do. Trump was overwhelmed with work.
In June 2020, Woodward said he asked Trump if he had help crafting a law and order speech amid nationwide protests for racial justice.
Trump said, “I get people, they come up with ideas. But the ideas are mine, Bob. Want to know something? Everything is mine.
Woodward wrote, “The voice, almost whispering and intimate, is so revealing. I believe that is Trump’s view of the presidency. Everything is mine. The presidency is mine. He is still mine. The only point of view that matters is mine.
“The Trump Tapes leave no doubt that after four years in the presidency, Trump has learned where the levers of power are, and total control means installing absolute loyalists in key Cabinet and House positions. White.
“The record now shows that Trump led – and continues to lead – a seditious plot to nullify the 2020 election, which is in fact an effort to destroy democracy.
“Trump reminds how easy it is to break things you don’t understand – democracy and the presidency.”
Leftist writers were not uniformly skeptical of Woodward’s motives. To the New RepublicMichael Tomasky said he hopes the tapes could sway voters in the looming midterm elections, in which a Republican party firmly in Trump’s sway is poised to take the House and possibly be the Senate.
Tomasky wrote, “I hope against hope that the media frenzy that will accompany this release will bring Trump back to center stage as the issue of this election. There may be nukes buried in the tapes that have been held up by the selective leaks.
“One wonders if Woodward is holding topical quotes until Tuesday.”
Tomasky added, “Let’s hope so anyway, because what has struck the past few weeks is how much Trump has faded from the campaign conversation.”
Republicans aiming to hold House and Senate seats, governors’ mansions and key state posts are hoping things will stay that way.
Trump is in legal danger on many fronts, from investigations into the Capitol attack and attempts to cancel the 2020 election to a legal battle over his retention of White House records, criminal and civil lawsuits over his activities. commercials and a libel suit from writer E Jean Carroll, who says Trump raped her.
The former president denies wrongdoing and continues to launch a third race for the White House. On Sunday, Woodward told CBS he regretted not pressing Trump on whether he would leave the White House if he lost in 2020.
On the corresponding tape, Woodward says, “Everyone says Trump is going to stay in the White House if it’s contested. Have you thought …”
Trump chimes in, “Well, I’m not – I don’t even want to comment on that, Bob. I don’t want to comment on that right now. Hey Bob, I’ve got all these people, I’ll talk to you later tonight!
Woodward said: “That’s the only time he didn’t comment. And this, of course, was months before his loss. And I sort of slapped myself: why didn’t I follow a little more that?”