Bob Woodward, ahead of Boston appearance, says Trump makes decisions ‘without a factual basis’
Three months after two-time Pulitzer winner Bob Woodward released his latest book, about inner workings of the Trump White House, the journalist says he is still struck by the ongoing “governing crisis” he found in his reporting.
As president, Trump “makes decisions often without a factual basis for making them. The concern about his process and the outcomes seems to be growing,” Woodward said.
Woodward spoke to the Globe ahead of his Tuesday night appearance in Boston at The Wilbur.
His book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” is Woodward’s 19th — tomes that span nine presidents since he and his Washington Post colleague Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate story that eventually led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon as president.
In his latest, Woodward describes a chaotic Trump White House in which the president disparages his own cabinet officials behind their backs, and those cabinet officials do the same to the president. The book also depicts aides removing papers from the president’s desk that were ready to be signed, hoping Trump would forget he asked them to be drawn up in the first place.
The book, which was released in September, takes readers through parts of the 2016 campaign, the transition, and through the first year and a half of the presidency. Trump did not agree to be interviewed by Woodward before the book came out.
In Oval Office meetings, Trump is often challenged about where he gets some of his ideas. But then, as Woodward reports, Trump will respond that he learned it somewhere decades ago and “if you disagree with me you are wrong.”
“You have to measure a leader somewhat about how they grow and learn,” Woodward said. “Trump does not display the growth and the learning that should take place by anyone heading any institution, let alone the federal government. ... His experience is self-validating, that he knows best, and that tends to isolate him from alternative ideas and learning opportunities.”
The book ends with a scene of Trump talking with his attorney at the time, John Dowd, about what special counsel Robert Mueller might have uncovered. Woodward said he decided to focus the book on what Trump was doing as president because where the Mueller investigation is going is “publicly unclear” but that Mueller has a reputation of being someone who will prosecute someone “who rips the tag off a mattress.”
“He’s really tough, and if he finds any crime, he goes after it,” Woodward said.