President Donald Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward that he does not believe that because of his privileged upbringing he has a responsibility to understand the “anger and pain” felt by Black Americans, according to a new book by Woodward.
The Washington Post, where Woodward is associate editor, reported excerpts of the book, “Rage,” on Wednesday and posted audio clips on its website.
The book, set for release on Tuesday, is based in part on 18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with Trump from December to July.
During a conversation on June 19, Woodward, whose father was a lawyer and judge in Illinois, pointed out that he and Trump were white and privileged, and asked if that affected his thinking.
“Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country?” Woodward asked.
“No,” Trump responded. “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”
Woodward described Trump’s voice as mocking and incredulous, according to the Post.
Woodward pressed Trump to understand the plight of Black Americans who have long endured discrimination and unequal treatment and Trump claimed, as he has publicly, that he has done more for Black people than any president other than Abraham Lincoln, the Post reported.
Days later, on June 22, Woodward asked Trump whether he thinks there is “systemic or institutional racism in this country.”
“Well, I think there is everywhere,” Trump said, according to an audio clip. “I think probably less here than most places. Or less here than many places.”
“OK. But is it here? In a way that it has an impact on peoples’ lives?” Woodward asked.
“I think it is. And it’s unfortunate. But I think it is,” Trump responded.
In a separate conversation about race, on July 8, Trump complained about his lack of support among Black voters, according to the Post.
“I’ve done a tremendous amount for the Black community,” he told Woodward. “And, honestly, I’m not feeling any love.”
Trump shared “visceral reactions” with Woodward about prominent Democrats of color, including Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term progressive from New York, the Post reported.
After seeing a shot of Harris watching him deliver his State of the Union address, Trump said: “Hate! See the hate! See the hate!” The Post said he had the same reaction after Ocasio-Cortez appeared in the frame.
Trump told Woodward he did not believe former President Barack Obama was smart, according to the Post.
“I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker,” Trump told Woodward, adding that Korean leader Kim Jong Un thought Obama was “an a–hole.”