tv Bob Woodward Robert Costa Peril CSPAN November 10, 2021 8:00pm-9:02pm EST
dismisses as a phantasm at the asked aspects of the gospel do not suit. >> and the rest searched for mr. hendrix name for the title of his book christians against christianity weekends on cspan2 are an intellectual feast on sunday book tv brings the latest nonfiction books and authors. funding for cspan2 comes in these and more. >> cox is committed to providing eligible families for affordable internet through the program. merging the digital divide one at a time. bringing you closer.
>> cox along these television companies support cspan2 as a public service. >> good evening everyone i am brad graham might wife lives in muscatine we have a great program for this evening featuring washington post journalists talk about the reveille new book the last months of the trump administration to pose a question at any point during the discussion just click on the q&a icon at the bottom of the screen in the chat column you'll find a link for half a century was five decades of the washington post where he remains in associate editor, has covered ten president and
shared two pulitzer prize is first deposed covered the watergate scandal and second terrorist attack. i made headlines andan many readers for the 21st with a national political reporter at the post where he has worked for nearly eight years working several years at the national review. he has servedd s his moderator n pbs and a political analyst for nbc news and msnbc. no doubt, many of you watching have heard or read the highlights of peril. general millie's call for his chinese counterparts the chinese fears about truck
possibly launching an attack. our vice president mike pence searching for whether they are indeed a way congress could reject the election results only to be told by none other than dan quayle to forget it. there is much more to this explosive page turner of a book that reads like a thriller is for decades with the paper also has covered city hall, reported from europe and south america additionally he is the author of three books, working on the fourth and appears frequently on msnbc as a political analyst. so gentle and the is yours but.
>> brad i've known you for many years about costs i've known you have admired your doggedness and persistence as a reporter on the way you work your sources. and bob woodward you harden at the "washington post". [laughter] who are the great reporter of our time it is a real privilege to be here to talk
and i bring outrage that came from that interview and then after we had he said some things i did not actually happenen he promised he would in the national debt in the first term. i observed that has not happened in the national debt has gone through the roof in his four years as president. you remember what you said to>> me we have had several
conversations i think bob woodward and i have discussed this the interview into thousand 16 was a precursor to the bucket. in particular with the method. we texas candidateal donald trump the different soundbites let's prepare he said back in 2016 think about decisions. why did trump decide to run? how did he decide to use a power? if he achieves and uses the president's how can he wield the power? can he understand it? what does he want what is his goal? in the heart of a campaign trumpet sewn up the election in march. we went in there to have a
governing conversation about trump. it's one of those moments where i sent back as reported and said this method, this approach of looking at the governing possibilities first, not the political issues is critical. i said to myself to we probably are not doing this enough as we cover this campaign. woodward and i have remained close since a as reported reporters discussed in the office to office presidency, power decisions. fascinating. his i have read peril over the last few days pretty regularly my jaw would drop as i come across a path and say whoa.
other words i do not use in polite company to describe some of thehe stuff. i am curious, let's start with you onoo this. and the new bob cost what made your drawing job? what was the revelation the nuggets, the event, the conversation. what was it that jumped out at you and said whoa? the s theme of what we found that truly surprised us is this. between the election and the inauguration of biden was a national security crisis. not just a domestic crisis. the worry that trump had a moment and what would be
domestic impact of that, what not realize is the chinese, the russians, the iranians were watching the united states and were terrified about what was going on and put themselves on a military alert chinese at one point, generally was telling the people and it was in the intelligence reports he thought the united states was going to attack china. this was a crisis then you may have to worry they may attack you. you may have a pearl harbor.
if you put yourself in millie's shoes, as we tried to do with our reporting of how this all went down, it was a very dangerous time. later, it has been said these are secret calls, phone calls he w had. they were on a top-secret back channel. the second call he had intelligence the chinese once again had to deal with generally and brought in the intelligence agencies. the cia director andcy told her
the admiral he ran up operations around china canceled the exercises they may be miss read by the chinese as provocative. this was a moment, this was a military person's nightmare. kevinry adversary think but to have the adversary think you, your own government might collapse. sure president trump suffered a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election.
why was that much of a surprise why was that much of a surprise given what he had seen from trump all the jaw-dropping momentst we see that we learn and the bucket. five costa? >> our reporting does not cast it or show it to be a surprise. it is a culmination it is a conclusion following months of eight generals assessment up close of president trump going back to lafayette square. we seen in the book president trump screaming at military leaders civilian and in uniform about the protest in washington d.c. and his desire
to bring combat troops into washington d.c. to confront the protests. we see president trump issuing his own memo outside of the usual channels to withdraw u.s. i troops from afghanistan in november of 2020. very critical moment this president could go outside the channel not only on withdrawal when b it comes to afghanistan and put his black sharpie signature on some kind of document that leads to a situation with dire consequences. that same kind of behavior, conduct trouble with anger over his defeat to biden could lead to challenges, perhaps a crisis or catastrophe with the u.s. nuclear arsenal. on january 18 calls in members of the and mcc the brigadier generals, the colonel's running strike operations the
pentagon's war room and says follow the procedure make surehi i am part of this procedure. i need to be on the net, bring me in. if you get a call from anybody call me. billy is not in theey chain of command butf he wants to be part of the procedure and he is supposed to be part of the procedure t he says to them as he goes around the room, got it? yes, sir. >> gots, it? yes, sir. it's quite a moment heit is not a psychiatrist he's a senior military officer making a conclusion speaker of the house calling him and saying he is crazy. speaking of president trump we have the whole transcript of the book a transcript this ever been revealed to the public before. he is saying he is crazy make sure you have control this nuclear arsenal something that could triggerit war perhaps war with china or another adversary does not happen.
>> i guess i am asking it is certainly not the first crazy we saw from trump or chronologically in the book. early in the trump administration we have him refusing for a while to sign off on an aircraft carrier. he does not quite like the look of it he thanks the tower should be in a different position. he is a naval architect all the sudden. you have paul ryan the former speaker of the house getting k a briefing on a personality disorder. yyou have to wonder what they weren dealing with, when they're dealing with with donald trump. he mentioned the lafayette
park debacle in june 2020. the peaceful demonstrate violently, out of the area, walked over to st. john's church to hold up the bible. general millie went with him and regretted it, apologize for having gone especially in his fatigues. then secretary of defense mark esper did an interesting thing. having heard the possible use of the insurrection act to mobilize the military against black wives matter demonstrators, publicly announced there is no need to invoke the insurrection act.
and trump was furious. he was furious and said you're taking away my authority for. >> he would not be pushed around and shoved his statements at trump who is sitting at the resolute desk. this is what i said, understand do not misinterpret it. this is one of the many incidents were millie said my god there is a mental decline there is a danger is it wonderful praise for this is the absolute darkest moment of theoretical possibilities. in other words the moment was dark but the possibility was theoretical.
but then it became real when you mix it with the trump personality the region. but they they had checkmated there is a point can't make the boss to keep the boss what would be damaged to the institution. they believe they checkmated trump i'm putting the combat troops to washington. tthis is the beginning of millie's experience in esper's experience. they were working in tandem. the problem esper had he is he was fired by trump. trump put in somebody who was
chris miller, no one knew what was going on there. there was no trust so you have the moment after moment. i do not want to dwell in this too much. here millie is up in miller's office and sees this memo trump has signed withdraw the troops from afghanistan. mentally under the law is supposed to be involved in this. he was not. he was a surprise, they go over to the white house and eventually trump nullifies that memo. but clearly trump will go off-line. >> let me jump back to the actual events of january 6 for a moment because they continue to reverberate and will continue toco reverberate in
politics international life for a long time. and so this question for bob costa. the west wing apparently was more or lesses deserving that day. they were very few people there. from the description and peril, the president seems almost mesmerized or transfixed by the television interviews. and almost out of it in a sense, is that an unfair characterization? or how would you characterize the reporting about trump inside the west wing on that day? >> is bob woodward has said we have discovered this national security crisis. a very gravesi the situation
during the transition especially after the insurrection of january 6. but we have also found a very grave domestic political b crisis that bordereds on being a constitutional crisis if a few things are gone differently. while events in the west wing in the afternoon of january 6, it was pretty deserted. president trump is watching tv a flat mood. it is not accurate to think about that as a president trump in january 6. of the most important parts of that section of the book come in the days before january 6. while president trump may have been watching tv seemingly idle during the ride itself we see president trump through our reporting be a very active player. on january 2 being pressured
orca meadows the chief of staff of throwing these electors out, moving to the house of representatives will republicans because they have control of the most delegations could potentially board meeting is on general fourth vice president pence and his advisor for the first time we've published a memo that's got a a lot of attention this week outlining how pence could h throw out you see in this scene listen to john and eastman has us memo saying to
walk by january 6 and walked away. the political allies like guiliani and steve bannon who were together on january 5 happen in a that reporting looking on january 6. >> let's talk for a minute cesiabout vice president pence urged to read the memo talking about ultimately the vice president decides, based on the legal advice he was getting that no he could h not
out? >> it's complicated and multidimensional. pence wanted to accommodate trump it was so obvious i can report forru the first time were trump and pence are in the oval office and trump is saying to him don't you wish you had this power? wouldn't this be great? pence is resisting. he is a back and forth. he had lawyers and counselors who are identified in the book saying no, you cannot do this. you do not have the power. and as he pointed out that one point pence and dan quayle who
also told pence you do not have that power. he actually cited the constitution and the law. you see the hesitation on pence's part to do something constitutional and says to advisors, okay i am going to do what the conservative constitutionalist wouldld do. this was a part of the peril and all of this that if pence had gone the other way and decided i am confused, i do not know how we certify the winner here. and walked away, which he could have done an trump was very anxious to happen, we
would have had a constitutional crisis. a crisis about the legitimacy of theid presidency, who is president, who one and so forth. this is one of the political and constitutional bullets we dodged the whole time. >> is funny to say we dodged the bullet then we went to january 6. there are millions of american troops who deny the legitimacy. we didid at large the larger caliber bullet which did lodge the constitutional crisis. president trump santos vice president, wouldn't almost be cool to have that? to just throw out the vote. when pence says no, trump says ri do not want to be your friend anymore if you do not
do this. she said you betrayed me, i made you, you are nothing. it is all about donald trump is it not? isn't every thing from beginning to every day, isn't it all about donald trump? i use the present tense because it is still that way. is that what you found at the report? >> one thing that really stood out to us in our reporting is after pence leaves the oval office he looks white as a ghost, rattled, people who were seeing him at that time said he was shook. but president trump stayed at the white house. he opens the door to the oval office out into the garden.
[inaudible] this is the big moments you have guiliani, bannon and others huddling together in their own sort of war room. i was in the streets of washington that night reporting. it was chaos. cops were fighting with protesters, protesters and red caps walk into the streets. but we found out president trump opens the door to the oval office in the freezing weather and takes it all in, here are the cries of his supporters insist isn't that terrific? when some of trump's aides, the room they set start to shiver what is going on to someone going to close the door? he does not close the door he keeps it up and wants to hear his people out there. bob woodward said to me at almost reminded him of nixon talking to the pictures on the
walls in 1974. >> what is interesting about it bob cost and i talked aboutmm this at length. but we discovered what happened at this moment it's almost eight mysticalth engagement that trump has with the mob out there. he is mesmerized by it. we discussed this and when nixon and his final days was talking to the pictures on the wall nixon was talking to washington and lincoln, trump was talking to his mob. that is his connection to the population the last are peril remains because trump and what he stands for is out there in
the political world now some polls show he would be biden. trump is 30 -- 40% of the people believing the election was stolen from him the biggest trump supporters, lindsey graham and senator mikese lee investigated the charges and came up and concluded it was zero. trump will not listen to his own allies to investigate said there is nothing here. about trump and the final days of the trump administration. it also has chapters about
about joe biden and the incoming biden administration. when you read you switch from one to the other it's almost like you're talking about two different countries. everything is crazy and one country and work the way you kind of think government and washington orcs no matter which party is in charge is that a fair characterization of the contrast not just to fascinating individuals into countries as well. >> i would not phrase it particularly that way their intertwined stories we begin the book with the millie moment january 8. you understand the days after
the insurrection. we also wanted to answer the question in our reporting, how did we get there and where's this nation going? we go back to charlottesville back to biden's decision to run here and twice before 88, 2008, never found his footing at any of this races in any meaningful way. he had this ambition he decided t to run spurned by the belief what is happening in the country, white supremacy march was un-american. his traditional centerleft politics never caught fire. his ability to see democracy fueled him to try to confront
with the trump in my mind it is a human story it is a political story it is a reaction. it's almost start time take questions from the audience i've one quick question for both of you. i'll start with bob cost of them bob woodward, is he running again, is trump running again? everyone he knows you're going to like my decision. his confidantes are working with him now are working with pulling all the time in new jersey and florida telling him he's the most popular public in the country. he has the political capitol placing too many people behind the scenes in our book he wants to run again. he tells his former campaign manager this past summer he wants that army back that is his phrase he had the army he
wants it back. if he runs again he's going to learn and trent run for not policy aim but is going to run because he believes the election was stolen and he wants vengeance. >> i think he is a definitely running. the really interesting question is, why? what is the rationale for the candidacy we used to talk about why this candidate? why are they running? what would they do if they won? trump has based all this year the election was stolen, he pivots around that. i think it is so important to
examine exactly what is the election stolen? we spents months on this question. there is no evidence. if senators lindsey graham mike lee investigate. there is a scene where there is an extended scene were mike lee is sitting because he reads this a memo from john eastman saying the alternative of electors in seven states and they go or what? i haven't seen that i have not heard that it would be major news. a senator can get anyone on the phone, as we know it. he sits there for a couple of days and calls all of the heads of the legislators in arizona, wisconsin, pennsylvania and georgia and says alternative electors? no zero there's nothing
there. he tries to tell trump personally this and convey that message as lindsey graham, his supporters. it is kind of like at the washington post- boomer working on a story some editor says the story is there the reporter from the field come sentences no it is not there. it does not exist. sometimes these ideas that editors and presidents have in their head these things do not .xist the existence of a stolen election is a total fantasy we scratched around, we went out into the night. knocking on doors, reluctant sources, making sure we got
the best obtainable version of what occurred here. what occurred here is there was no stolen election. >> on that note, i am going to turn to questions we have enter audience. how would you explain the overreaching of general millie? it seems he stepped outside the regular channels. isn't this considered treasonous. did millie stepped outside of a normal channel in his communications with the chinese? or was this within was. [inaudible] big. >> costa? >> chairman millie is going to testify before congress next week. he has issued a statement
ahead of that testimony saying he worked within the procedures to make sure there is not some kind of miscommunication as bob and i writes, miscommunication can be in the seat of war he knew that he wanted to avoid it on october 2020. that's why there's a call with general lee and 2021. it is important to read the full book. the full book has the full context. the context shows in each of these moments in the calls he was reading in other people. he is calling in the cia director. i was talking to the joint chiefs.se this is a senior military officer working to de-escalate potential crisis. it's clear these kind of calls between military leaders can be routine calls between such
leaders can be routine certainly, this moment was anything but routine. at some moment in a back channel to try to avoid global war to try to avoid miscommunication the south china sea or he believed was in decline acting out in a rash way a catastrophic way. you see them trying to protect the country from having miscommunication or an isolated call from the white house or the president calling a missile to be fired or military arsenal to be used. >> talk a bit about billfi barr's role in the final couple of months. the book reports instances in which bar was also a break or a buffer keeping the president
from perhaps doing crazyzy things. the question is, what's this about preserving or restoring his own reputation? was it to protect the institution the justice department and indeed the proper role of the executive branch. what can you tell us about bill barr? >> very interesting personality. certainly he wants to leave and he left the trumpit administration with his reputation intact are some people, not with others. what we found most interesting was he would have private meetings with trump and in the
middle of last year the election year he went to trump and said i traveled the country. i have seen more people out there. you have incredible support there. but mr. president, i need to tell you your supporters think you are in effingham a whole. >> it is what it is big. >> bob woodward said the real word remic colbert show the other night i said oh boy here we go. [laughter] >> it is stunning. barr is trying to give himli political advice. you think you ared a political genius but you are not? barr is a a conservative republican and want trump to win.
when he sees the whole administration there really is an epic collapse of the presidency and this november, december, january when he saw this he wanted out. he wrote a resignation letter to trump which is really a love letter about all of the great things you have done. hoping he can sneak out without getting negative trump tweets and trump accommodates him tweets and said bill barr has done a great job. so, this is complicated. but if you put it all together, all of these people one way or another including pence, including barr, certainly including millie, including the republican leadership on the hill, senator mcconnell, the house
minority leader had disdain for trump. behind the scenes would say things sometimes to his face. there is a sense when you connect the dots here that everyone glimpsed his on fitness for office or that he just was not doing the job. trump was here was a job of the president? he said to protect the people. he did everything but protect the people. his presidency was defined by protecting donald trump. that now is that peril continues as we say in the book, maybe there is going to be a real massive bite in the
republican party between trump and pens work trump and somebody else for the republicanic nomination. jean you know this better than anyone, anyone tries to predict the outcome where politics is going is wasting their time. there is no telling anything can happen. >> nobody knows anything, especially now. he talked about protecting the people. the other day is driving on constitution avenue and i looked over at thehe washington monument and there is almost hundred thousand little white flags planted all in rows. on the monument ground each flag symbolizing someone who died from covid-19. you try to square that with
the duty to protect the american people. it is so tragic. another questionn from the audience can address the role of the trump children and jared kushner during those peerless final days? bob costa? >> it based on our reporting the president's children, in particular of bunker trump were close to the president throughout the president's speech of uncle was an actual advisor and her husband jared kushner senior advisor as well. there is a scene in the book or of bunker trump goes into the oval office a few times, three times actually on january 6 at the encouragement of general keith kellogg and otherstr working with president trump and tells her father to calm it down, to let it go she says, let it go.
but we are careful in our reporting telling what we confirm to happen or not making a conclusion about whether this even matter to president trump. as a reporter when veronica says generally six, let it go, let it go, just let this defeat go. go back tomorrow lago and enjoy political winter run the gop from the outside in some kind of informal way. he brusheded off and said i could never concede my people do not want me too quit. based on our reporting the conversation was pretty similar on january 6 with his daughter ivanka. jared kushner working on middle eastern issues throughout the.ne transition. his children, along with others around the president,
many of the president's critics called the enablers. it times to try to enable his behavior often times they are turning away not doing too much to corral them. when you talk to sources just nod and go along with what's inside the white house. >> thank you bob trump in his heart of hearts really believe the election was stolen from him? [laughter] bob woodward? >> it is a great question. i wonder how you tap into trump's heart ofs hearts. he would not talk to us for this book. i interviewed him for ten hours.oo he was a not happy with the last book, rage, about he failed to protect the people
from the coronavirus when he was given intelligence warnings you can quickly learn what's sad what seems to be the motive the motive is something you get the full clarity on them? what trump up to? is he rational enough to know the election was not stolen? don't know. i think he is one of these people who believes certain things. even if there isn't evidence and talks himself into the belief. it's easy to cross that threshold of belief to delusion. i think if you gave him sodium
pencil, the truth serum i would say it would take a lot of the drug to figure out what is going on here. that is the problem and the peril is, i got to know him very well, bob colson 2,152,016 was often the only one on the trump campaign. you can try to get the facts about what happened trump secretly has a psychiatrist or at least he will get clarity
on what happened. the points for people in our business is that we have to find some way to be is factual as possible, to not get caught in the political storm and make political judgments. to see what really happened. what really happened was a giant surprise to bob costa and myself some of it is peril remains. >> one little scene that is so revealing right after the election president trump calls up his long-time adviser and says how did we lose to that guy, biden how did that
happen? how did we lose? for a fleeting moment he is it's beyond him. [inaudible] it was stolen. his sleep. he's talking to convalescing gosh i cannot believe i lost. how did we lose to that guy? he said maybe it was stolen, it was stolen. that begins the drum beat that fuels the entire transition. >> basically was the cabinet ever considering the 25th amendment or some way of believing president trump with his powers? >> no the 25th amendment the thstandard is is the president
disabled? pence, as a vice president will be the one who had to lead the charge on this. he steadfastly refused to dot it. i think coming out of this experience and hopefully there can be lessons learned. as the 25th amendment sufficient for dealing with the problem like donald trump? the second issue is some experts and knowledgeable people about nuclear weapons, do we have a system that really makes sense?co do we have control of nuclear weapons? could the president, like trump, and i don't think he was going to start a nuclear war got into some sort of military action with the
chinese. you could see china or some country using the small tactical nuclear weapon. all of the sudden we would be on this perilous escalation ladder that would take us to armageddon. it was a really dangerous. and the mechanisms of the 25th amendment, the mechanisms and procedures of control of nuclear weapons is a lot of examination that needs to be done in our view from our reporting. >> one last question. it is about president biden. an audience member has asked and you hear on some news channels the question of whether he is being protected
by his handlers from tough questionshe. whether he is being somehow cosseted away from the presidency and overprotected in that way. did you get any sense of that in your reporting? >> our reporting shows there is some around president biden. they call it the wall is effective trying to keep him from interviews. he did not choose to participate in this book. he did not sit for an interview. we note that in the back of the book. but what is interesting in our reporting of that question is president biden's closest friends and advisors know he has a career of being candid
at times. being a little sharp. so on the right some time to see coverage of this aspect of the book in the wall around biden's some sort of way of cocooning him from tough questions. when you look at the book in the context of how we write it there's a whole section of president biden seeming in the eyes of his advisers and friends a little prickly at times, too sharp with the tongue. there is a hope to keep this politician was so much political popularity in his own party who has the power of the presidency from meandering into a moment or controversy. you suck early on this administration powering on the rescue plan, dealing with the virus it. saw a politician and president biden largely averted controversies early on eventually there have been a couple but they have been scattered and few as the
reporting shows. in part that is his own discipline. it's noto so much the wall around them but biden himself adjusting his own political approach. >> taking one final question before i invite our host. and i'm actually going to answer the question. how is all this information obtained? i can answer that question. it was obtained by reporting old-fashioned shoe leather reporting bob woodward's done for his whole career and bob costas done for his whole career. and so that is where it came from this is not an exercise in thumbsucking. it is reporting, and i might add it is fabulous eye-opening historical reporting. and it was a privilege to
share this hour with you congratulations on the book. i hope everybody reads it back to you. >> great moderating and bob woodward and bob costa it really isn't epic a book about epic times. you do and it on such an ominous note. we will notn' be able to say it we were not warned if the peril later somehow come back and bring usme down. everyone watching, thanks for tuning in. a reminder in the chat column you can find a link for purchasing copies of peril. from all of us here politics and prose, stay well, and well read. ♪ ♪ weekends on cspan2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday in american history tv documents america's story and on sunday, book tv
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