Interviews for Fear were conducted under the journalist ground rule of “deep background.”... “When I have attributed exact quotations, thoughts or conclusions to the participants, that information comes from the person, a colleague with direct knowledge, or from meeting notes personal diaries, files and government or personal documents.”
Bob Woodward, Note to Readers
“Go on then in doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword: show that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind of man than on the body.”
Thomas Jefferson's Letter to Tom Paine (1792)
Bob Woodward posits in Fear Trump in the White House (2018) that Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb called John Dowd to complain that the president was not responding to them, blowing them off. They needed Dowd to call the president.
“Mr. President,” Dowd said in a call on the night of March 21 around 10 p.m.
“Hi, John,” the president said. He was very nice. Calm.
“Mr. President,” Dowd said, “I'm sorry to bother you. But Ty and Jay have called me.” They wanted him to address the question about testifying.
Trump said he had decided to testify. He could handle Mueller. “John that's just where I am. Sorry you don't agree.”
“Well, it’s not my job to agree. It's my job to look after you. And if you start taking your own advice, you get in trouble. Mr. President, I don't take my own advice.”
“You have lawyers?”
“Absolutely. All the crap I've been through? Of course I have lawyers.”
“John that's where I'm at,” Trump repeated. “I think the president of the United States cannot be seen taking the Fifth.”
“Mr. President, we can make a far better presentation than that. By the way, I would add something. I think we ought to brief the key leaders on the Hill first, before we go public.” Take all the testimony and documents, and make the case to them before getting involved in a court battle. “Tell them why we're not testifying. If we show them all this stuff...”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Trump said. “But, John the guys out there are not going to be happy if I don't testify.” He did not say who “the guys” were—but Dowd knew he meant the Trump base, the crowds at his rallies, the Fox News watchers, the deplorable.
“What are they going to think when Mueller requests an indictment for 1001 violations?” Dowd asked, referring to false statements.
“No, no, I'm a good witness. I'll be a real good witness.”
Dowd knew this was self-delusion, total bullshit. He had earlier told the president an anecdote from a layer friend in Florida who had once taken Trump's deposition. When the lawyer had asked him what he did for a living, it had taken Trump about 16 pages to answer the question.
“You are not a good witness,” Dowd said again....”
“Mr. President, I'm afraid I just can’t help you,” Dowd said.
He told the president he had every right to be pissed off at Mueller.
“They're not going to impeach you. Are you shitting me? They're a bunch of cowards, the whole town. The media, the Congress. They're gutless. What's the impeachment going to be, for exercising Article II? Hello? Hello, I want to hear Speaker Ryan take that one up before the Rules committee and the Judiciary Committee.”
ARTICLE. II SECTION. 4
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
FALL OF THE HOUSE OF THE TRUMP CARD
It's the press, Trump said. “They're kicking the crap out of me.”
Mr. President, you're the one that didn't give up your tax returns. You've already won round one. They're sore as hell. They hate you. They hat your guts.”
What does the press want? Trump asked.
“I'd pull all their credentials. I'd throw them the fuck out of here. I don’t think they have any right to come into the White House and behave the way they do.”
Trump said that was his sentiment. “But I always get overruled, John. They”---Hope Hicks and Kelly--”overrule me every time I want to pull someone's credentials.”
The press, Mueller, Congress, Dowd said, “We ought to tell them to go fuck themselves. And let's get back to being president of the United States. Because compared to what you do every day, this is a gnat on an elephant's ass. And we've got to treat it that way and get going.” Dowd considered it his closing argument.
The next morning Dowd told his wife, Carole, “I'm gone.” He called the president and said he was resigning. “I’m sorry I am resigning I love you. I back you. And I wish you the very best. But if you're not going to take my advice, I cannot represent you.”
“I understand your frustration,” the president said. “You’ve done a great job.”
Two minutes later, The New York Times called Dowd, and The Washington Post called. Dowd could see Trump picking up the phone and imagined him calling Maggie Haberman at the Times. “Maggie? Fucking Dowd just resigned.” Trump always liked to be the first to deliver the news.
At least Dowd felt he'd gotten ahead of it, had resigned before being fired and getting his ass trashed.
Dowd remained convinced that Mueller never had a Russian case or an obstruction case. He was looking for the perjury trap. And in a brutally honest self-evaluation, he believed that Mueller had played him, and the president, for suckers in order to get their cooperation on witnesses and documents.
Some things were clear and many were not in such a complex, tangled investigation. There was no perfect X-ray, no tapes, no engineer's drawing. Dowd believed that the president had not colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.