Donald Trump on COVID, Kim, and Putin: Tapes of talks with Bob Woodward to become public – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Historians will soon be able to hear an even more unvarnished Donald Trump, as author Bob Woodward releases tapes of interviews on such topics as COVID, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.
“The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump,” to be released publicly Tuesday, details how Trump played down the dangers of COVID, played up friendly relationships with Putin and Kim – and became what Woodward and others describe as a threat to democracy.
“I wanted to put as much of Trump’s voice, his own words, out there for the historical record and so people could hear and judge and make their own assessments,” Woodward said in a statement released by his publisher, Simon & Schuster audio.
Woodward added: “Trump does not believe in democracy. That is my conclusion.”
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Many of the interviews were conducted for Woodward’s 2020 book, Rage. In that work, Woodward wrote that “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”
 As for this latest audiobook, Woodward said: “Now two years later in 2022 I realize that I didn’t go far enough. Trump is an unparalleled danger. The record now shows that Trump has led – and continues to lead – a seditious conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, which is in effect an effort to destroy democracy.”
Simon and Schuster Audio said the tapes show “Trump at his most raw, profane, divisive, and deceptive and, ever the salesman, also at his most entertaining and engaging.”
Trump, who described his presidency as a success, criticized release of the tapes, and said he objected to the new Woodward audiobook.
“I said no, no,” Trump told Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade. “These tapes are for the written word. These tapes are for your book. These are not to be sold. These are tapes for your book to help you.”
CNN and others have reported on many of the comments made in the Woodward interviews.
Among them:
In tapes released in the fall of 2020, Trump told Woodward the previous March that year that he knew the coronavirus was more deadly and contagious than the flu, but downplayed its dangers to the public.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, 2020. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” 
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The tapes detail how Trump showed Woodward letters he received from North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un.
Those letters are among the subjects of an investigation into Trump for removing classified information from the White House; the tapes indicate that Trump knew the letters were top secret.
“And don’t say I gave them to you, okay?” Trump told Woodward.
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At another point, Trump told the author: “You can’t mock Kim. I don’t want to get in a f—ing nuclear war because you mocked him.”
Speaking of classified information: Trump also told Woodward that the U.S. has weapons systems no one knows about, including China President Xi Jinping and Russia President Vladimir Putin.
“I have built a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,” Trump told Woodward. “We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.”
Woodward comments in the book: “This exemplifies the casual, dangerous way that Trump treats the most classified programs and information.” 
Trump also spoke of his good relationship with Putin, who reportedly helped Trump win the 2016 presidential election via the theft of Democratic emails.
“Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing, all right? Especially because they have 1,332 nuclear f—ing warheads,” Trump said at one point. 
Trump takes full credit for everything his administration did, irrespective of aides, advisers, or congressional lawmakers. After Woodward asked him about a “law and order” he speech he gave in 2020 after nationwide protests of the police killing of George Floyd, Trump said: “I get, I get people. They come up with ideas. But the ideas are mine, Bob. The ideas are mine.”
He added: “Want to know something? Everything is mine. You know, everything. Every part of it.”
The audiobook begins with a 2016 interview of then-presidential candidate Trump. It then goes through 19 more interviews conducted between the fall of 2019 and August of 2020.
This was before the 2020 election loss that Trump tried to overturn, leading to the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021; Woodward did not interview Trump during this period.
The tapes also feature other people close to Trump, including first lady Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Vice President Mike Pence.


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