‘I failed mightily’: Bob Woodward on the challenges of reporting on Trump

Bob Woodward, celebrated investigative journalist and co-author of “Peril,” joins a special live recording of Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast along with Carol Leonnig and George Conway. During the discussion, Woodward shares candid insights on reporting on the Trump administration and the ongoing investigations since the former president left office. “Did we, in our business, do enough to look at Trump in 2016 and tell people who he was, where he came from sufficiently?” says Woodward. “Myself? I’d say I failed mightily.”

Video Transcript

DANIEL KLAIDMAN: We've all covered high profile grand jury investigations. When they are this high profile, you learn about it-- maybe not from the Justice Department, but witnesses talk, their lawyers talk. You learn about it. If people in Trump's inner circle were going before the grand jury, we would know about it.

- Yeah, we'd hear, witch hunt. Witch hunt.

DANIEL KLAIDMAN: What do you make of that?

BOB WOODWARD: Trying to step back-- what's going on here? And even though Biden has been quoted, I think accurately, in the "New York Times" saying he'd like to see Trump prosecuted, boy, I think that is a giant Step and this is all about the legitimate functioning of the presidency. And that's why I say we've got to get a lot of reality and not get into these legal tunnels.

DANIEL KLAIDMAN: How do you establish accountability? I mean, getting the information out there, writing books, having congressional hearings-- that's all important. Is that enough?

BOB WOODWARD: Maybe it is, but then let the voters decide. Remember, Trump in 2020 lost, and not by 7 million votes, by 45,000 votes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia-- that close-- could have gone the other way. But he lost. And I remember in one of the interviews I did with him leading up to the 2020 election-- and so I just asked, I said, you know, I think you won in 2016, which I think is the question we always have to return to, because you realized the old order was dying in not just the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party, which I think is true.

He just jumped in his chair. Yes, that's it. I knew the old order in both parties was dying. He did have some intuitive sense about where the soft spots were in the system, in the electorate, and so forth, and can't run away from the fact that he almost won in 2020. Then you can crank yourself back to 2016 and ask the question, did we, in our business, do enough to look at Trump in 2016 and tell people who he was, where he came from sufficiently? And I think we've-- I know myself, I'd say I've failed mightily.

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