The legendary journalist, whose book "Fear: Trump in the White House" releases Tuesday, responds to the president calling him a liar and assures Colbert "the truth will emerge."
Legendary reporter Bob Woodward dropped by "The Late Show" to chat with Stephen Colbert about his latest book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," where he discussed the president's memory issues and willful attitude in the face of history.
He also confirmed previous reporting of White House officials calling the president names behind his back, like when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called him a "f--king moron."
Even more notable than that, Colbert called out the ending of Woodward's book, when he detailed a mock interrogation session between Trump and his then-attorney John Dowd.
According to the book, Dowd acted as Robert Mueller might in asking the president questions, and Trump flew off the handle, screaming and making things up left and right.
Woodward says that Dowd told Trump, "You can't testify. You're disabled." He told the president that he was incapable of telling the truth. "Dowd knew he could not bring himself to say to the president, 'You're a f--king liar,'" Woodward wrote of that moment.
These are just a few of the highlights of Woodward's sprawling interview with Colbert. Below are seven other notable moments:
ON THE RECORD
One of the things Colbert was quick to point out is that Dowd, as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly, has denied that he said any of the things attributed to him in "Fear." Trump, in a series of tweets, has used those denials to try and debunk the whole book.
"These are people who are trying to survive and keep their jobs," Woodward said in response. "And I know other reporters who’ve heard things from those people, and they heard the exact same thing, but it was off the record so they couldn’t use it."
This is one of the reasons that Woodward said he is so passionate about refusing to interview anyone off the record. "People would say, ‘Well I want this off the record.’ No, this has all got to be on deep background," he told Colbert. "I’m going to use it. I’m not going to say where it came from.
"I think in our business, at times, we are cheating the public. We learn things, secret things. Off the record. We’re part of the gang. I think we have to kind of stop doing that and saying, Let’s use it in a way that we can tell the public."
MOTIVE OF THE SOURCE
Colbert did have to bring up the potential motives of the source, though. In such a divisive time, and especially in Washington, everyone seems to have an agenda. But Woodward says fundamental good reporting takes care of any potential motives or agendas a source might have.
"No, because what you do is you take information and you check with other people. You know, this is a little beehive, the White House, and somebody will say something and somebody else will have a document," he said.
"It’s one of these things where you get to know some of these people and you realize they’re speaking from conscience. Because they are worried about Trump doing things. And so they steal papers off his desk. But Trump doesn’t remember."
SOME PEOPLE LIKED THAT
It's how Woodward is confident enough to report such bold and shocking claims as Dowd allegedly calling the president "disabled" or Trump telling Senator Lindsey Graham, "Some people liked that," in relation to him calling African nations shitholes.
To his credit, Woodward reports that Graham retorted, "Not me. I didn't like that ... This is something I’m not going to go along with."
PUT IT IN PORTLAND
At another point, Woodward recalls the story he was told about the world's most advanced missile system that the United States set up in South Korea just in case North Korea were to fire off missiles.
These would have the best chance of striking down those missiles, but Trump only wanted to know the cost, which was $1 billion.
"Well take it out. Put it in Portland," he reportedly shot back.
He uses that same simplistic approach to everything, according to Woodward. "This is a reality show," he said. "This is what goes on, and there’s a middle part which we haven’t discussed, which is national security."
Woodward says it comes from a fundamental lack of understanding how global politics works. "Not realizing that national security for the country comes from having trade relations, having security agreements like NATO and secret intelligence partnerships," Woodward said.
"There’s one scene last year in the pentagon where Trump is there, and Secretary of State Tillerson said, ‘This is what’s kept the peace for 70 years.’ He’s historically right, but Trump does not want to do any of that stuff. He wants to do it his own way in a dangerous way."
It was after this momentous meeting where Trump rejected the advice of all of his advisers that Tillerson allegedly called him a "f--king moron."
WELL, YOU'RE WRONG
According to Woodward, Trump takes this simplistic conviction into every situation. "He’s got ideas about the economy," Woodward said. "They meet with him and they will say, 'Where’d you get that idea, 99.9% of the economists just disagree.'
"Trump says, 'I’ve had those ideas for 30 years.'
"'Well we disagree.'
"Well, you’re wrong.'" And it's as simple as that. He's so sure without any real understanding of why he's so sure. And, according to Woodward, he might not even remember what he was just so sure about today when tomorrow comes.
WE BETTER WAKE UP
Woodward also called out the president on not doing the job of the President of the United States of America. Instead, Trump is focused more on satisfying his base and vilifying the other side.
"We need to have a president say, ‘What’s good for everyone in the country, not just the base,'" he said. "And there is a way to answer; there are certain things the country needs. That’s the president’s job."
He went on to advise the American people, "We better wake up to what’s really going on and people need to examine it. Not just Republicans and Democrats. This is not partisan."
Trump was quick to respond to the announcement and press tour for Woodward's forthcoming book, and he has continued to rail against it in the days since. When asked how he felt about Trump calling him a liar, Woodward's response was very succinct.
"I'm not," he said.
"What is the contest in America, other than the political contest?" Woodward asked. "It’s a contest for the truth. And I’m willing to put myself out here. I’ve done the work. This is the best reporting that I can do."
He went on to add, "He has his First Amendment right, he can say anything. But the great editor at the Washington Post, Ben Bradley during Watergate, used to always say when there was a contest back and forth, he said, the truth emerges. The truth will emerge on this, too."
Keep reading for all of Trump's tweets attacking Bob Woodward and his book "Fear: Trump in the White House," available everywhere today.
The Woodward book is a Joke - just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
“I’m taking this book with a grain of salt & everyone should do the same. Multiple sources, but almost every one of them has come out and discredited the claims made by Woodward. You cannot take this book too seriously.” Katelyn Caralle, Washington Examiner— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up. The author uses every trick in the book to demean and belittle. I wish the people could see the real facts - and our country is doing GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018
“It is mostly anonymous sources in here, why should anyone trust you? General Mattis, General Kelly said it’s not true.” @SavannahGuthrie @TODAYshow Bob Woodward is a liar who is like a Dem operative prior to the Midterms. He was caught cold, even by NBC.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
The Economy is soooo good, perhaps the best in our country’s history (remember, it’s the economy stupid!), that the Democrats are flailing & lying like CRAZY! Phony books, articles and T.V. “hits” like no other pol has had to endure-and they are losing big. Very dishonest people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
Got a story or a tip for us? Email TooFab editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.