Bob Woodward, the highly respected journalist and author of All the President’s Men, about the Nixon Watergate scandal, has turned his attention to the presidency of Donald J. Trump in a new book. When the president heard about the book, he called up Woodward in early August to discuss it.
In a transcript of the call published by the Washington Post, the president asks Woodward why he wasn’t contacted about an in-person interview for the book. Over the course of several statements, Woodward states that he did contact several members of the president’s staff about an interview, but Trump repeatedly says he was never informed that Woodward had called.
“BW: I’m sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book.
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?
BW: Well, about six people.
Trump: They don’t tell me.”
At one point, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway came in the room and the president put her on the phone with Woodward, according to CNBC. Conway admits that she did speak to Woodward about an interview with the president, but says that when she tried to arrange the interview, the request was denied. She volunteers that she didn’t take the request directly to the president because she didn’t want to be accused of not following protocol, which CNN points out is indicative of a larger problem in the White House: infighting between the president’s staff members and general fear of the president himself. Trump mentions staffers being afraid to approach him two separate times over the course of the 11-minute call.
Woodward also tells Trump that he contacted White House Deputy Communications Director Raj Shah about an interview, as well as two senators, including South Carolina Senator (and close friend of the president) Lindsey Graham. Trump does say that Graham mentioned something to him in passing, but that the request never went any further.
Toward the end of the phone call — which Woodward recorded with Trump’s permission — the president seems resigned to “another bad book” coming out about him, but brushes it off with the comment “Big deal.” He states during the call that he’s disappointed that he didn’t get to speak to Woodward about the book, because he feels Woodward is very fair, but that the book was now going to be “very inaccurate.” At the time of this writing, the president’s Twitter feed is full of damage control statements from Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, and Secretary of Defense General James Mattis.
Woodward’s book, titled Fear: Trump in the White House, is due out from Simon and Schuster on September 11, 2018.