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Bob Woodward's new audiobook features hours of his interviews with ex-President Trump

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For those who have not heard enough of Donald Trump, here's an opportunity. Bob Woodward has written three books about Trump, and for one of those books, Trump talked with the journalist for hours, and Woodward usually recorded the conversations. He plays them in an audiobook called "The Trump Tapes."

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "THE TRUMP TAPES")

DONALD TRUMP: I have done more for the Black community than any other president other than Abraham Lincoln.

BOB WOODWARD: And Lyndon Johnson.

TRUMP: I say more than Lyndon Johnson.

WOODWARD: Well...

TRUMP: OK. I got criminal justice reform.

WOODWARD: Right.

TRUMP: I did prison reform. I did historically Black colleges and universities. OK?

WOODWARD: This is Trump wanting to sell himself, wanting to convince me he had done all of the proper things. And in the course of it, you see - as I conclude and as the audiotapes show - he did not understand his responsibilities as president.

INSKEEP: Let's play a little bit of these conversations that gets a sense of how Trump makes things about himself and his resentment toward his portrayal in the media, I guess we should note here. Your colleagues Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig wrote a book about Trump. He appears to have read or learned about it. And it reported that Trump visited the scene of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, but he barely seemed to understand it. And he really resented that. Let's listen to your conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "THE TRUMP TAPES")

TRUMP: I have the movies memorized from the time of my kids, like the greatest movies ever. You know, the original Pearl Harbors are better than the modern ones that look like they were done by a computer. I mean, can you imagine - I studied Pearl Harbor. I talk about it all the time with Abe. I talk about kamikaze pilots. I talk about all that stuff. I find - they write in there that I wanted to know, what exactly is Pearl Harbor? No. You know how insulting that is to me? It's so false. They made it up. That's not a leak, Bob, that's - they made it up.

WOODWARD: Well, I'm going to dispute you on that.

TRUMP: All right. That's OK. I don't mind.

WOODWARD: Because I don't think that - if they ever made up something...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Don't interrupt me. He's a sleaze bucket. I know him well. He never writes good.

INSKEEP: So what are you thinking, Bob Woodward, as the president tells you, he never writes good?

WOODWARD: Well, he - it's one of his grievances. And I know Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, colleagues at The Washington Post - they're terrific reporters. Trump is so driven by his internal emotions and reactions. He really can't see past the grievances he has about the media, about the opposition, about the investigations of him. And what struck me is you hear it in his voice - the anger. He can't step back from his anger, and so...

INSKEEP: He's not acting, is he? I mean, he actually feels as wounded as he says he is.

WOODWARD: I - look. I can't get in his head. All I can do is report. And here you have hours of him as he's dealing with the major issues of the presidency - the virus, foreign affairs, the constant business of being president. And my final conclusion is you cannot be this disconnected from the job you have. I asked him once, what's the job of the president? He said, to protect the people. Well, on the virus, he totally failed.

INSKEEP: There are portions of his party that are turning against democracy altogether. I could cite an article from just the other day in which the writer says, conservatives need to become radicals. We need to take over, and maybe we'll give back power later and maybe we won't. Do you think that Trump has any affection for democracy?

WOODWARD: Well, I think he doesn't understand democracy. The January 6 insurrection and the House Committee on that has laid out so much compelling, authoritative evidence. What is the diabolical genius of what Trump did on January 6 and all of the people who aided him in this - that's the weak spot in the system. The Constitution and the law say January 6, the Congress will certify the winner. This led to Trump's denial, support of the insurrection and most alarming, the unparalleled pressure on Vice President Pence.

INSKEEP: One final thing. If it's true that Trump's election in 2016 was part of closing the door on a phase of American history, what's the phase we're in now?

WOODWARD: We don't know. It's pretty clear to me from my reporting that he's going to run again. He has tens of millions of supporters. The problem and what is so vividly and powerfully demonstrated in these audios is Trump's not comfortable with democracy. It's, you know, it's - because only I know. There is a time in June of 2020 when he's given a law and order speech. And I ask, did anyone help you with that speech? And he says...

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "THE TRUMP TAPES")

TRUMP: Yeah, I get people - they come up with ideas, but the ideas are mine, Bob. The ideas are mine. You want to know something? Everything's mine.

WOODWARD: And there is an intimacy in this. But the ideas are mine, Bob. Everything is mine. A declaration of ownership in a democracy where we don't have ownership. We all get to vote. There is a back and forth. I remember when I first heard it, I thought, wow, that - and then when I went back this year and listened to this thing - I mean, everything is mine. What? So off the tracks it's almost not explainable. So what do you do as a reporter? You put it all out there and let people decide.

INSKEEP: Bob Woodward has released an audio book called "The Trump Tapes" with recordings of his conversations with former President Donald Trump. Thanks so much.

WOODWARD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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