In the recording, Trump is heard touting his relationships with despotic world leaders, such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and admitting that he does not get on as well with politicians from democratic countries.
“I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you’re not supposed to because everyone says what a horrible guy, but for me it works out good,” the commander-in-chief says on the tape.
“It’s funny, the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them, you ought to explain that to me some day, but maybe it’s not a bad thing.”
“The easy ones are the ones I maybe don’t like as much or don’t get along with as much,” Trump says.
Woodward, a renowned reporter famous for covering the Watergate scandal, told anchor Savannah Guthrie that Trump spoke badly of leaders from democratic nations like South Korea, but touted his relationships with autocrats like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un.
Last year, during a joint press conference with then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump agreed with Kim’s assessment that former Vice President Joe Biden is a “low IQ individual.” In a statement, Biden’s team slammed Trump for siding with a “murderous dictator” and accused him of “embracing” autocrats.
Biden, who is the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, has criticized the administration’s foreign policy, accusing Trump of cozying up to despots like Putin. In June, following reports that Russia offered bounties to extremists in Afghanistan to kill American troops, Biden slammed the commander-in-chief for “debasing himself’ before Putin.
Over the years, as CNN detailed, Trump has repeatedly praised a number of authoritarian rulers, extolling Putin, Kim and Erdogan’s leadership abilities. He has also praised China’s Xi Jinping.
The publication described his “admiration” for despots as a “feature not a glitch” of his presidency.
Woodward’s new book, Rage, will be released on Tuesday. Most of it is reportedly based on the journalist’s conversations with Trump and unnamed White House officials. The book will also feature nine hours of interviews from 18 phone calls the two men had between December 2019 and July 2020.
Notably, Woodward alleged in Rage that Trump was aware of the dangers COVID-19 posed as early as January, but downplayed the potential danger the virus posed to the United States.