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Former President Donald Trump showed journalist Bob Woodward confidential letters that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrote to him, CNN revealed Wednesday.
CNN has had access to part of a new audiobook by the aforementioned journalist entitled The Trump Tapes, which will be released on October 25 and contains eight hours of interviews he conducted with the former Republican governor during his presidency.
During one such meeting in the White House Oval Office in December 2019, the Washington Post reporter asked the president whether his confrontational rhetoric toward the North Korean leader was intended to bring Kim to the negotiating table, which Trump denied.
Trump then asked his aides to show Woodward his photos with Kim at the DMZ (the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas).
Part of this new Woodward audiobook, which contains the 20 interviews he conducted with the former governor between 2016 and 2020, discusses what Trump thought of his relationship with Kim.
In them, the former president also admits that he did not have a clear strategy on North Korea following his threats to Kim, in which Trump claimed that he had a “much bigger nuclear button” than North Korea, says CNN.
The interviews provide insight into the former president’s worldview and are the most extensive recordings of Trump discussing his tenure, including an explanation of his reason for meeting with Kim, his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the ex-president’s detailed views on the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The audio also shows how Trump decided to share with Woodward the letters that Kim wrote to him, secret missives that at the end of his presidency the billionaire took to his residence in Palm Beach, Florida, and which led the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the classified documents he had appropriated.
“And don’t say I gave them to you, okay?”, Trump told Woodward as he showed him the letters.
The journalist, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal that cost Richard Nixon the presidency in 1974, said in the introduction to the audiobook that he is releasing these recordings in part because listening to Trump speak is a completely different experience than reading transcripts or listening to snippets of interviews on television or the Internet.
“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 interviews, Trump shares his views on the strongmen he admires, including Kim, Putin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and reveals his general belief that he is the smartest person around.
In a June 2020 interview, which followed nationwide protests after the police shooting death of George Floyd, Woodward asked Trump if he was helped to write the speech in which he declared himself the “law and order president.”
“They come up with ideas. But the ideas are mine, Bob. The ideas are mine (…) Everything is mine,,” Trump told Woodward.
In response to a question about North Korea’s nuclear program, the president boasted about U.S. nuclear capabilities and mentioned a new weapons system that was probably top secret, which Woodward said reaffirmed the “casual and dangerous way” in which the former president treats classified information.
“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.”