tv Bob Woodward Robert Costa Peril CSPAN November 10, 2021 8:09am-9:10am EST
yes, it really was a crazy time. yes. >> i want to show you a book cover again. it is very good. i think that the time has come for us to end our time together. thank you so much. it was really wonderful. so good to talk to you. thank you so much for joining us. >> this was really lovely. amazing. thank you so much. it was nice meeting >> thank you so much. >> i hope i get to talk you again, another time. >> everyone, welcome to pp live. i'm bradley graham, the co-owner politics and prose along with my wife lissa muscatine.. we have a great program for you this evening featuring "washington post" journalist bob woodward ando robert costa here to talk about the revelatory new
book "peril", covering the last months of the o trump administration and the first months of biden's presidency. a couple of brief house cooking notes. to pose ake question any point during the discussion click on the q&a icon at the bottom of the screen. in the chat con you'll find a link for purchasing copies of "peril." bob woodward course of an observing and reporting in washington for half a century. in his five decades with "washington post" where he remains an associate editor is covered ten president and shared two pilcher prizes. -- pulitzer prizes. his books have made headlines and drawn many readers. "peril" is a 21st book. all of the national bestsellers. e as woodward notes in
acknowledgment but he's already made a name for himself as national political reporter at the post where he's worked for nearly eight years following several years at the "national review." he's also served as moderator and managing editor of washington week on pbs and as a political analyst for nbc news and msnbc. no doubt many of you watching have heard or read some of the highlights of "peril." general milley has called -- chinese fears about trump possibly launching an attack or vice president mike pence searching for whether there indeed was some way he and cox could reject the election result only be told by none other than dan quayle to forget it. there's much more to this explosive page turner of a book which reads like like a thd will lead you aghast not only at how close the country came to the brink but also how perilous
the future remains. the conversation with the authors will be pulitzer prize-winning columnist at the post who in his four decades with the paper also has covered city hall, reported from your and south america, and edited the style section. additionally he's the author of three books, working on a fourth, and appears frequently on msnbc as a political analyst. so gentlemen, the screen is yours. >> thanks so much brad, and it's first of what is it what a pleasure and what an honor it is to be doing this tonight. brad, i've known you for many years. you were my predecessor south america correspond at the post. bob costa, i've known you since you came to work at the "washington post" and very quickly, so i have admired your
doggedness and persistence as a reporter and the way you work your sources. i said this is a great young reporter. woodward, i have done for 41 and a half years. you had me at the "washington post," and -- >> what a mistake. [laughing] >> well, you can try to atone for that if you want but still you know, it will suffice to say that you are the great reporter of our time and it is, , so it s a real privilege to be here with the two of you to talk about "peril." so my first question is about the making of the book. so how did this collaboration come about? bob woodward, you've done of the books with collaborators. you have done co-authors, you have done books on your own. how did what seems to have been
a match made in heaven actually come about? >> it was actually a match made in trump's hotel in washington in 2016. costa said to me, jenna, trump might be president. he was on the verge of getting the nomination and costa said we should go interview him. so we did, and i got two titles from the interview went trump was talking about i always bring out fear, or i use fear to get my way, and i bring outrage in people, so fear and rage came from that interview. and then after we had, afterwards, after the interview, and trump was very, he said some things that didn't come out,
didn't actually happen. for instance, he promised that he was elected president he would in the national debt in the first term. i observed that has not happened at the national debt has gone through the roof in his four years as president. and then costa and i talked, you remember what you said to me. >> well, bob, we had several conversations at the time about how we have to take trump seriously but i really think, bob woodward and i have discussed this, that interview in 2016 was a precursor to this book. in particular in terms of the method. when i approached woodward and we say hey, let's go talk to this candidate donald trump, he said let's just not going there with a fishing pole as reporters and try to get different soundbites. let's prepare, really prepare for the interview. he showed me some of these
documents that is presented to other presidential candidates and president in the past and he said to me back in 2016 in february and march as we're getting ready, think about decisions, why do trump decide to run x how does he want to use power? if he achieves and wins the presidency, how would he wield the power? does he understand it? what does he want? what his goal? in the heart of the campaign trump had effectively sewn of the nomination in march 2016. we went in there to have a governing conversation with donald trump, and trump even seemed at the time taken aback by the interview, which was quite long. it was not about really topics of the day. it was about the presidency, and that to me was one of those moments where i i sat back asa reporter and said, this method, this approach are really looking at the governing possibilities first, not the political issues,
it's critical. and i said to myself, we probably are not doing this enough as the cover this campaign. woodward and i had remained close since as reporters thinking through these issues, discussing the office of the presidency, power, decisions. >> fascinating. as i read "peril" over the last few days, just pretty regularly my job would drop as i would come across a passage that i would say well -- in other words, i don't use in polite company. just to describe some of the stuff. but i'm curious and start with you on this, bob woodward, and then bob costa. what made your jaw drop? what was the revelation, the
nugget, the event, a conversation, what was it that just jump out at you and made you say whoa. >> the theme of what we found and it truly surprised us that this period between the election and the inauguration of biden was a national security crisis, not just a domestic crisis. and the worry that trump might have a moment and what would be the domestic impact of that, but we didn't realize is that the chinese, the russians, the iranians were watching the united states and were terrified about what was going on and put themselves on military alert. in fact, the chinese at one
point generally, the head of the chinese military, -- general lee -- it was in the intelligence reports he thought the united states was going to attack china. when general milley, chairman of the joint chiefs saw this, this was a crisis because when the adversary thinks you might attack them as millie told his senior staff, then you have to worry they may attack you. you may have a pearl harbor. if you put yourself in his issues, as we tried to do with our wording with how this all went down, it was a very dangerous time. and later it's been said these were secret calls, phone calls he had with general li. they were on a top-secret back
channel but they were not secret. the second call after, two days after, i'm sorry, the january 6th insurrection, he had the intelligence the chinese thought the united states was collapsing. and once again he had to deal with general li, and he brought in the intelligence agencies, the nsa, national security agency, gina haspel, the cia director, and told her, look at everything. told the joint chiefs, called the admiral moran operations around china and said, -- the admiral who ran -- they may be misread by the chinese as provocative. this was a moment, this is a military persons nightmare, and
to have an adversary think you might attack them, and then later to have the adversary actually think that you, your own government, might collapse. >> that's just astonishing. you guys were right that during that time, general milley was concerned that president trump had suffered a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election. and i'm curious, i would like both of you to weigh in on this, maybe starting with bob costa. why was this that much of a surprise, the way trump was acting? why was this that much of a surprise to milley given what he had seen from trump and all the other sort of jaw-dropping moments that we see that we have
learned in the book? bob costa. >> are reporting does not cast it or show it to be a surprise. it's a culmination. it's a conclusion following months of a generals assessments of close of president trump going back to lafayette square. with seats in the book of president trump screaming at military leaders, civilian and in uniform about the protest in washington, d.c. and his desire to bring combat troops and washington, d.c. to confront the protesters. we see president trump issuing his own memo outside of the usual channels to withdraw u.s. troops from afghanistan in november of 2020, a very critical moment in the book because it causes people like chairman milley to realize this president could go outside of the channel not only on withdrawal when it comes to
afghanistan and put his black sharpie signature on some kind of document that it leads to a situation with dire consequences, but that same kind of behavior, that conduct coupled with president trump's anger and fury over his defeat to biden could lead to challenges to press even a crisis or catastrophe within u.s. nuclear arsenal. that's what on january 8 he calls and members of the in in in c, the brigadier, the kernels who run the strike operation, the pentagon's war room and he says follow the procedure make sure i am part of this procedure. i need to be on the net. bring the in. if you get a call from anybody call me. milley is not in the chain of command but he wants to be part of the procedure and he supposed be part of the procedure and he says to them each as he goes around the room, got it? yes, sir. got it? yes, sir.
it's quite a moment because he is not a psychiatrist but he's a senior military officer in the united states making a conclusion that the president he is seen up close is in serious mental decline is also giving the speaker of the house that same day nancy pelosi calling him and saying he's crazy, speaking of president trump. and we have the whole transcript in the book, transcript that's ever been revealed to the public before. and she is saying he's crazy, you better make sure you get some control over this nuclear arsenal so something that could trigger war press even war with china or another adversary doesn't happen. >> you know, it's just i guess i'm asking because it's certainly not the first crazy we saw from trump or not the first crazy, you know, chronologically in the book. early in the trump administration we have him refusing for a while to sign off on an aircraft carrier because he doesn't quite like the look
of it. he thinks that power should be in a different position. you know, he's a naval architect all of a sudden. you have paul ryan, former speaker of the house, you know, getting a briefing on narcissistic personality disorder. and you have to wonder how many people sort of new what they were dealing with when they were dealing with donald trump? you mentioned the lafayette square park debacle in june 2020 when, you know, the peaceful demonstrators were cleared violently of the area, and president trump walked over to st. john's church to hold up a bible. milley, general milley went with him, regretted it, later apologized for having gone,
especially in his fatigues. then the secretary of defense mark esper did an interesting thing. having heard this use of possible use of the insurrection act to mobilize the military against black lives matter demonstrators. mark esper announced publicly announced that there was no need to invoke the insurrection act. trump was furious. he was furious and he yelled at esper you are taking we might authorities. >> he would not be pushed around and the unabashedly shoved his statesman at trump was sitting at the resolute desk. this is what i said. understand, don't misinterpret
it. so this is one of the many incidents where milley just said, my god, there is a mental decline here. there is a danger and he had a wonderful phrase for it, which i want to read i don't ruin it. for milley said, this is the absolute darkest moment of theoretical possibility. 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 and this irrational raging. so what esper and milley realized -- on this, that they had actually checkmated -- i mean, we worked together for years. there's a point where you -- you
keep the boss from doing what we be damage to the institution or even the boss, and they believe they checkmated trump on bringing the combat troops to washington. this is the beginning of their experience, and they were working in tandem. the problem esper had come he was fired by trump a few days after the election, and trump put in somebody who was, chris miller, who was, no one knew what was going on there. there was a lot of, there was no trust. so you have the moment after moment. i mean, i don't want to dwell on this too much, but here milley is up in miller's office and sees this memo that trump has signed, with a draw the troops
from afghanistan. milley is under the law, is supposed to be involved in this, and he was not. he was surprised. they go over to the white house and eventually trump nullifies that memo. but clearly he will go, trump will go off-line. >> let me jump back to the actual events of the january 6th for a minute, because they continue to reverberate and will continue to reverberate in politics and in our national life for a long time. this question for bob costa. the west wing apparently was more or less deserted that day. there were very few people there, and from the description in "peril," the president seems
almost mesmerized or transfixed by the television interviews, and almost out of it in a sense. it's that an unfair characterization, or how would you, bob costa, characterize the reporting of trump inside the west wing on that day? >> as bob woodward has said we have discovered this national security crisis, very grave situation on the national security front during the transition. especially after the insurrection on january 6th here but we have also found a very grave domestic political crisis that bordered on being a constitutional crisis of a few things had gone differently. and while the events in the west wing in the afternoon of january 6th, it was pretty deserted their president trump is watching tv in kind of a flat
mood. it's not accurate to think about that as president trump in january 6th. some of the most important parts of that section of the book, in the days before january 6th, and while president trump may have been watching tv and seemingly idle during the riot itself, we see president trump who are reporting the a very active player in the days before january 6th. on january 2, senators like mike lee and lindsey graham, two top republicans come close allies are being pressured by the whitest, mark meadows chief of staff, rudy giuliani and john eastman, this conservative lawyer, to think through how to help president trump get his aim of the ring some of these electors out, moving the election to the house of representatives where republicans because they have control of the most delegations could potentially tip the election to president trump. in a very important beating
comes on january fourth where vice president pence and his lawyer and his advisers come in to the oval office. president trump is there with john eastman this conservative lawyer, and for the first time we published this memo that is got a lot of attention, a six part memo from john eastman outlining how mike pence get to what electors and give the election to trump. and you see in the scene president trump saying to try to listen to john eastman. listen to john. listen to john. and eastman has this memo think it's constitutional and legal for pence to essentially walk up on january 6th and then walk away. so this is president trump having a pressure campaign of his own vice president and using the legal conservative community and his allies there, the political committee, allies on the outside like judy only -- rudy giuliani and steve bannon, all listings are happening behind the scenes and that's
what matters in the reporting as much or probably more than just president trump sitting there on january 6th watching tv. >> that's faceting. let's talk for a minute about vice president pence. whom president trump urged to listen to eastman. he says it's legal, he says you can do it. ultimately, the vice president decides based on the legal advice he is getting that no, he couldn't just throw out the votes. meanwhile, i believe it was senator lee who had come have taken it on himself to call the election officials in some of the states and learned that none of the states was going to toss out its electors anyhow.
but bob woodward, talk a bit about pence and how you came to view him after your reporting. was he resolute throughout this crisis? was he tempted perhaps to see what he could do to satisfy the president he had served so loyally four years? and how should we end up seeing him based on what you guys find out? >> it's complicated and multidimensional. pence wanted to accommodate trump because pence knew that if something could be worked out here he might be able to stay as vice president. it was so obvious, i mean, there are the scenes where, with which we can report for the first time where 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, but he's back and forth and he had some lawyers and counselors who were identified in the book saying no, you can't do this. you don't have the power. as you pointed out at 1. back pence and dan quayle, the former vice president who also had been from indiana, told pence, said look, you don't have that power. he actually cited the constitution and the law, but you see the hesitation waltz on pence's part. finally at the end he does standup and do what is constitutional and realizes and
says to advisers, okay, i'm going to do what the conservative constitutionalists would do. but this was part of the peril in all of this, that if pence had gone the other way and decided i'm confused, i don't know how we certify the winter here -- the winner here, and walked away which he could've done, trump was very anxious to have him do, we would've had a constitutional crisis, a crisis about the legitimacy of the presidency, who was president, who won and so forth. and so this again is one of the political and constitutional bullets that we dodged the whole time. >> we did. and it's almost went to say we dodged the bullet because we went through january 6th and
there were millions of americans who still deny the legitimacy of the election but, in fact, we did dodge a larger caliber bullet that would've been this absolute constitutional crisis if pence it active. those conversations you referred to, the book had president trump saying to his vice president wouldn't it almost be cool to have that power, to throughout the votes? when pence says no, trump says i didn't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this. and says you betrayed me. i made you. you were nothing. it's all about donald trump, isn't it? i mean, isn't everything from the beginning to the end, every minute of every day, isn't it all about donald trump?
i use the present tense because i assume it is still that way. is that what you found from your reporting? >> one thing that really stood out to us in our reporting is after pence leads the oval office, he looks white as a ghost, rattled. people who were seeing him at that time said he was shocked. he goes home. he has this dinner scheduled with donors that night that president trump stays at the white house and he opens the door to the oval office and out into the garden. 31 degrees outside -- [inaudible] getting ready for the rally. this is the big moment, and at the hotel you have giuliani,, steve bannon and other allies huddling together in the own sort of war room and out in the streets, those industries in washington that night reporting and it was chaos. cops fighting with protesters.
.. bob woodward said to me it's almost reminded him of the send talking to the pictures on the walls in 1974 >> what's interesting about it and bob costa and i talked about this at length because when we discovered what hammond did, at this moment it's almost a mystical engagement trump has with the mob up there, the people and he's mesmerized by it and we discussed this.
when nixon in his final days was talking to the pictures on the wall, nixon was talking to washington and lincoln. trump was talking to his mob. and that is his connection to the population. and it is the last lines in the book are peril remains. because trump and what he stands for is out there in the political world now. some polls show that he would be biting. he has 30 to 40 percent of the people believing that the election was stolen from him when you know, the biggest
trump supporters, lindsey graham and senator mike lee investigated the charges and he came up and concluded it's zero but trump won't listen to his own allies who investigate and say there's nothing here. >> the book as these chapters about trump and the final days of the trump administration but it also has chapters about joe biden and the incoming biden administration. you switch from one to the other, it's almost like you're talking about two differentcountries . one country where everything is crazy and one where things are more orderly and normal and work the way you kind of think government in
washington works no matter which party is in charge. is that a fair characterization of the contrast that you get in the book and is it a book of not just 2 fascinating individuals butto countries as well ? >> i would phrase it particularly that way to that respect. these are intertwined stories and we begin with the milley moments january 8 and you understand where this country ended up in the days after the insurrection but we wanted to answer the question how did we get there and where is this nation going? it goes back to charlottesville, back to biden's decision to run. he would run twice before, never found his footing in any of those races in any meaningful way but he had this burning ambition eight years after being vice
president and he decided to run spurred by this belief what was happening in the country, a white supremacist march in central virginia, this was un-american and his traditional centerleft democratic politics never really caught fire but his ability to see democracy at risk. that fueled him in a different way to almost be like he was on a mission in the years of 2017, 2018, 2019 before he made a decision to will himself to run to confront what trump in his mind was doing to the country . and it's a human story, it's a political story andit's a reaction . >> it's almost time to start taking some questions from the audience. but before we do, i have one quick question for both of you. and i'll start with bob costa and bob woodward.
is he going to run again? >> he continues to use it publicly and says everybody he knows, you're going to like my decision. his confidants working with him now are updating him on pulling all the time in new jersey and telling him he's the most popular republican in the country that he has the political capital. the same to many people behind the scenes he wants to run again and he tells brad parcell, his former campaign manager this past number he wantsthat army back . he had an army, he wants it back and if he runs again our scouts and others privately say he's going to run not for any sort of policy aimed but he's going to run because he believes the election was stolen. he wants vengeance. >> i think he's definitely running. the really interesting question is why?
what is the rationale for the candidacy. why this candidate, why are they running, what would they do if they want? and trump has based his old, all this year on this issue of the election was stolen and he pivots around that. i think it's so important to examine exactly was the election stolen? bob costa and i spent months on this question . there is no evidence and when you have senators lindsey graham and senator mike lee investigates. there was a scene where it's an extended scene where mike lee is sitting because he reads this memo from john
eastman saying the alternative slates of electors in seven states and lee is going i haven't heard that, i haven't seenthat . that would be major news. at a senator can get anyone on the phone as we know and he sits there for a couple of days and calls all the heads of the legislatures in arizona, wisconsin, pennsylvania and georgia and says alternative electors, no . zero. there's nothing there. and he tries to tell trump personally this and convey that message as has lindsey graham, his supporters. it's kind of like the washington post, when we are working on a story and some editors says the story is there and the recorder from the field sometimes has to
come in and say no, it's not there. and sometimes these ideas that editors and presidents have in their head, these things do not exist. and the existence of a stolen election is a total fantasy and you know, we scratched around. we call people. we went out into the night. this is old-time stuff, knocking on doors . making sure that we got the best obtainable version of what occurred here and what occurred here is there was no stolen election. >> on that note, i'm going to turn to some of the questions we have fromthe audience . first one, how would you explain the overreaching of general milley?
it seems he stepped outside the regular channels. isn't it treason and did milley step outside his channels in terms of his nation connection with the chinese or was it within, he has a wide range, he's chairman of the joint chiefs so was it within his range? >> chairman milley is going to testify before congress next week and he has issued a statement i had of that testimony saying that he worked within the procedures to make sure that there was not some kind of miscommunication as bob and i write. miscommunication can bethe seed of war . milley knew that and wantedto avoid it . that's why he made the call with general lee and on
january 8, 2021. it's important to read the full book because the whole book as the full context and the context shows in each of these moments in the call he was reading in otherpeople . he was calling up gina has to and talking to paul sony running the national security agency and talking to the joint chiefs. this is a senior military officer working to de-escalate potential crisis and it's clear that these kind of calls between military leaders can be routine but our book shows that calls between such leaders can be routine certainly but this moment was anything but routine. it was a moment on a back channel to try to avoid global war. to avoid some kind of miscommunication in the south china sea where a president who they believed was in decline acting out and harass way, a catastrophic way and with the and and see exchange you see him trying to protect
the country from having miscommunication or an isolated call from the white house or even the president causing a missile to be fired or even a nuclear arsenal to be used. >> second question. talk a bit about bill barr's role in the final couple of months. the book reports instances in which barr was also a break or a buffer, keeping the president from perhaps doing crazy things. the question is was this about preserving and restoring his own reputation? was it about in some way to protect the institution of the justice department and in the proper role of the
executive branch or what can you tell us about bill barr? >> very interesting personality and certainly he wants to leave and he left the trump administration with his reputation intact with some people, not with others. what we found was interesting about barr was that he would have private meetings with trump and in the middle of last year, the election year you went to trump and he said i traveled the country. i've seen more people out there. i see your supporters and you have incredible support they are but mister president, i need to tell you that your supporters think you are and acting acyl.
sorry i should have made that a whole. >> that depends what it is. >> bob woodward said the real world when we were on the cold air show and i said oh boy, here we go. >> it's just stunning and he is trying to give them political advice. you think you are and acting political genius but you're not . and bar is a conservative republican and wants trump to win. and when he sees the whole administration, and there really is an epic collapse of the presidency in this time november, december, january. when he saw this you wanted out and he wrote a resignation letter to trump which is really a love letter about all the great things you've done and hoping he can
sneak out without getting negative trump tweets and trump accommodates him and trees and says bill barr has done a great job. so you know, it's complicated but you put it all together. all of these people one way or another including tents, certainly including milley, including the republican leadership on thehill . senator mcconnell. the house minority leader, mccarthy had disdain for trump and a behind-the-scenes would say things sometimes to his face and there is a sense when you connect the dots here that everyone glimpsed his unfitness for office. or that he just was not doing
the job that trump was here when i asked what's the job of the president and he said to protect the people. he did everything but protect the people and his presidency was defined by protecting donald trump. and that now is, that peril continues as we say in the book. you know, maybe there's going to be a real massive fight in the republican party between trump and pence or trump and somebody else for that republican nomination. anyone jean, you know this better than anyone. anyone who tries to predict the outcome or where american politics is going is wasting their time because there's no telling anything can happen.
>> nobody knows anything especially now but you talk about protecting the people. the other day i was driving down the avenue and i looked over at the washington monument and there was 700,000 little white flags that are planted all in rows. on the monuments grounds, each symbolizing someone who died. and you try to square that with the duty to protect the american people and it's just so tragic. another question from our audience. can you address the role of the trump children and jared kushner during those perilous final days? >> based on our reporting,
the president's children in particular ivanka trump, ivanka was an adviser in the white house and her husband jared kushner, the senior advisor as well.there is a scene in the book where ivanka goes into the office a few times on january 6 at the encouragement of general keith kellogg and others working with president trump and tells her father to calm down. to let go she says. but we are careful in our reporting to not lean into anything. we're just telling you what we confirmed as happened. we're not making a conclusion about whether this even mattered to president trump because there's another scene in the book that i think as reporter is more revealing that old text, his longtime advisor after the election
says to him essentially what ivanka trump says weeks later on january 6. let it go. let this defeat go. go back to mar-a-lago, run the gop from the outside. he brushes it off and says i can never concede, my people don't want me to quit and based on the reporting the conversation was similar on january 6 with his daughter ivanka. jared kushner working on middle eastern issues through the transition. this children along with others around the president, many of the president's critics called then and enablers. it's true at times they seemed to be enabling his behavior but often times their turning away and not doing too much to corral him and when you talk to sources familiar many of them it's an impossible task to do anything but just nod and go along with what's happening inside that white house.
>> another audience question, do you think trump in his heart of hearts really believes the election was stolen from him? bob woodward. >> it's a great question and i wonder how you tap into trump's heart of hearts. he wouldn't talk to us for this book though last year i interviewed him for 10 hours. he was nice happy with the last book rage about how he failed to protect the people from the coronavirus when he was given intelligence warnings and so forth. you know, what this reporter learned, you want to describe the events and behavior and what's said, what seems to be the motive but the motive is something you never get full clarity on.
what is trump up to? and again, is he rational enough to know the election was notstolen ? i don't know. i think he's one of these people who believes certain things and even if there is evidence and talks himself into belief. and it is easy to cross that threshold of belief to delusion. and i think if you gave him sodium panda fall, the truth serum i will say it would take a lot of the drug to figure out what he really -- what's going on here? but the problem and the peril is i got to know him very well, bob costa in 2015, 2016
was often the only one on the trump campaign playing or it wasn't even acampaign at that point . you can try to get the facts about what happened but this is all about maybe trump secretly has a psychiatrist or maybe trump will have a psychiatrist in the latter years of his life. and at least he will get clarity on what happened. the point for people in our business is that we have to find some way to be as factual as possible >> our business is to be as factual as possible to not get caught in the political storm and make political judgments and to try to invite people into this wonderful opportunity
to see what really happened. and what really happened was a giant surprise to bob costa and myself and summary is peril remains, peril remains. >> and quick, one little scene that is so revealing right after the election, president trump calls up kellyanne conway and the long time advisor, how did we lose to that guy, biden. how did we lose? for a fleeting moment, he's privately acknowledging, he did lose, he lost to biden, but in the same period he's getting call after call from giuliani and people on the right from congress saying, it was stolen, it was stolen. in the same period talking to conway, gosh, i can't believe we lost, how did we lose to that guy, and he says, well,
maybe it was stolen, it was stolen and that begins the drum beat that fuels this transition period. >> and so, another question, basically, was the cabinet ever close to considering 25th amendment or some way of relieving president trump of his powers? >> no, because the 25th amendment, the standard is the president disabled? and pence was, as vice-president, would be the one who would have to lead the charge on this, and he steadfastly refused to do it, but i think coming out of this experience and hopefully, there can be lessons learned. one of them is, is the 25th amendment sufficient for
dealing with the problem like donald trump. and the second issue is, with i some experts and knowledge of both people about nuclear weapons say, do we have the system that really makes sense? do we have control of nuclear weapons? do-- could the president, like trump-- and i don't think he was going to start a nuclear war, but if he got into some sort of military action with the chinese, you could see china or some country using a small tactical nuclear weapon and all of a sudden we'd be on this perilous escalation ladder that would take us to armageddon. the so it was a really dangerous period and the mechanisms of the 25th amendment, the mechanisms and procedures for control of
nuclear weapons, there's a lot of work, and a lot of of examination that needs to be done and our view, from our reporting. >> one last question, and it's about president biden. an audience member has asked and you hear on some news channels about the question of whether he's being protected by his handlers from tough questions, whether he's being somehow costeted away from, you know, the hurley burly of the presidency and protected in that way. did you get in i sense of that in your reporting on the biden
section. >> our reporting shows there are some around president biden who they call it the wall, that they're trying to keep him from interviews. he did not choose to participate in this book. he did not sit for an interviewment we note that in the back of the book, but what's interesting in our reporting about that question is president biden's closest friends and advisors know he has a career of being candid at times, being a little sharp, and so on the right, sometimes you see coverage of this aspect of the book and the wall around biden is some way of cocooning him from tough questions, but when you look at the book in the context of what we write, there's a whole section of president biden really seeming in the eyes of his advisors and friends, a little prickly at times. too sharp with the tongue. and there's a hope to keep this
politician, who has so much political popularity now in his own party, who has the power of the presidency, from meandering into a gaffe moment or a controversy and you saw early on this administration powering through the $1.9 trillion rescue plan, dealing with the virus, and you saw a politician in biden, president biden, who largely averted controversies early on and gaffe type moments. eventually there have been a couple, but they've been scattered and few as the reporting shows, and in part, that's his own discipline and it's not so much a wall around him, but biden himself at a different time if his life, in his career, adjusting his own political approach. >> okay. i'm taking one final question before i'll invite our host for final words and actually i'm going to answer question.
how was all this have amazing information obtained? i can answer, it was obtained by reporting, old-fashioned shoe leather reporting that bob woodward has done for all of his career and bob costa has done for his whole career and so that's where it came from, was this exercise in -- in his reporting and i might add it is fabulous, eye-opening, historic reporting and it was a privilege to share this hour with you bob woodward and you bob costa and congratulations on the book and hope everybody reads it. graham, back to you. >> great moderating, gene, and bob woodward and bob costa, an epic book about epic times and you do end it on such an ominous note. you know, we won't be able to say, we weren't warned if the
peril does later somehow come back and brings us down. everyone watching, thanks for tuning in. a reminder that in the chat column, you can find a link for purchasing copies of "peril". from all of us here at politics and prose, stay well and well-read. >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. and documenting america's story and book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding from c-span2 comes from these television companies and more, including buckeye broadband. ♪♪
>> buckeye broadband, along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> with the senate out of session, join us all this week for book tv. tonight, a look at recent best sellers. we'll hear from authors and journalists, including bob woodward and robert costa and their latest, "peril", and after that victor david hanson "the dying citizen", and later political commentator ben schiller ben shapiro and the authoritarian moment. and follow along on c-span now, our new video app. >> so, good evening. i'm roger kimball the editor and publisher of the new criterion. and i think i know most people in the audience so i'm not going to do anything elaborate.