Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, authors of Peril, the explosive new book about the tumultuous final months of the Trump presidency, joined The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday, where Colbert pressed them about sourcing. Colbert found the “well-explained” and “explosive” stories in the book distressing, given how well-researched the book seemed to be.
“You record the interviews, right?” Colbert asked. “Everything in quotes here, you’ve got dead to rights, right?” “Yes. We don’t disclose who the sources are,” Woodward answered. “We do them on what’s called deep background [disclosure of information without attribution]. We’re going to use everything that they said.”
Colbert was particularly curious about former Attorney General William Barr, who, according to the book, told Trump in April of 2020 that his reelection was at risk because suburban voters think he’s “a f***ing a**hole.” Barr also reportedly urged Trump not to support a GOP-led Supreme Court case against the Affordable Care Act, which they were undertaking as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
“Barr had to have cooperated with you,” Colbert said, “because at one point it says, ‘…thought Barr.’ How would you know what Barr thought unless Barr told you?” “Well,” Woodward said, “there are many ways. He could have a diary, we could…” “You could be a witch,” Colbert interjected, making Woodward laugh.
Despite the deflections, Colbert’s mind was made up.
“We don’t discuss sourcing,” Costa said. “You don’t discuss sourcing,” Colbert replied. “OK, it was Barr. He talked to you.”
Colbert also wondered about Trump loyalists whose public image could be bolstered by the book. One prime example would be GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who, according to the book, dismissed Rudy Giuliani’s election fraud arguments as the work of a third-grader.
“How many of the people talking to you for this book are trying to rehabilitate their own image by saying, ‘I always thought it was bad. I pushed back.’?” Colbert asked. “Some, yes,” Woodward answered, “no question about that.”
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