Trump refers to himself 100 times for every time he shows concern for American people, Bob Woodward says

Former president relies on personal instinct and is dismissive of experts, veteran journalist explains

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 26 October 2022 16:25 BST
Related Video: Donald Trump shows reporter classified letters from Kim Jong Un in new audiobook

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward, the author of three books about Donald Trump and a new audiobook of recordings of their conversations, says the former president’s narcissism was evident throughout those interviews.

Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Mr Woodward elaborated on what he observed during his lengthy interactions with Mr Trump over his presidency.

“My assistant, Claire McMullen, has listened to these tapes many, many times,” Mr Woodward said. “And she found one time Trump referred to the American people, 100 times he referred to himself, what he knows.”

This self-obsession was unique amongst the ten American presidents that Mr Woodward has covered in his storied career at The Washington Post — most famously, Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

Mr Woodward told CNN’s John Berman and Brianna Keilar that Mr Trump relied on personal instinct more than any other president and was completely dismissive of expert opinion that went against his own ideas.

The journalist gave the example of the former president’s apparent admiration for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

“On Kim Jong-un, the CIA says he is stupid, Trump says, ‘Oh, no, he’s smart,’ and then Trump says ... ‘Only I know,’” Mr Woodward explained.

“I’ve never heard... any of the ten presidents I’ve reported on ever approaching the point. Now, maybe they thought sometimes only they knew. But to say that... that is the message, that this is all about him.”

He continued: “On the strategy of dealing with North Korea, I asked if he was trying to drive, get Kim Jong-un the North Korean leader, the thug of all times who starves his own people, are you trying to get him to the bargaining table? And Trump says ‘Oh no, it’s instinct, it’s all about instinct.’”

Mr Woodward added: “This is a historic moment, challenge, and historic danger dealing with North Korea this way, and it’s all being done on instinct?”

During the Trump presidency, Mr Woodward wrote Fear, Rage, and Peril, covering the different phases of the administration.

In writing these he spoke with then-president Trump on multiple occasions, recording hours of their conversations, now released as the audiobook The Trump Tapes.

In another excerpt of the tapes released prior to publication, Mr Trump showed Mr Woodward the letters sent between him and Kim Jong-un and asked him not to tell anyone he had.

Mr Woodward also wrote a scathing op-ed for his own paper, explaining how he decided to release the tapes, because: “I was struck by how Trump pounded in my ears in a way the printed page cannot capture.”

He noted that he ended a previous book about Mr Trump with the words “when his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job”.

“Two years later, I realize I didn’t go far enough,” the journalist wrote in the piece published on Sunday. “Trump is an unparalleled danger. When you listen to him on the range of issues from foreign policy to the virus to racial injustice, it’s clear he did not know what to do. Trump was overwhelmed by the job. He was largely disconnected from the needs and leadership expectations of the public and his absolute self-focus became the presidency.”

“‘The Trump Tapes’ leaves no doubt that after four years in the presidency, Trump has learned where the levers of power are, and full control means installing absolute loyalists in key Cabinet and White House posts,” Mr Woodward added. “The record now shows that Trump has led — and continues to lead — a seditious conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, which in effect is an effort to destroy democracy.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in