Woodward ostensibly came to Maher’s HBO late-night show to promote his book, Fear: Trump In the White House – the title of which, he said, President Donald Trump gave him during an interview. Asked what is real power, Trump responded that real power is fear. “It was almost like Hamlet in Shakespeare,” Woodward shivered.
“It’s his way of scaring the bejeezus out of people,” the Washington Post associate editor explained.
“People ask why Republicans fall in line behind him. They fear him,” chimed in Maher.
“The country fears him, so the world fears him,” Woodward added. “The fear has worked,” he said, calling this administration a “governing crisis” created by a POTUS “gambling with who we are and what the country is.”
Maher warned his viewers the situation is “a lot worse” than they think, and reckoned they think things are pretty bad.
“I don’t think he’s leaving, even if he loses the election in 2020,” Maher forecast, calling Trump’s reax to voting result challenges happening now in Florida “a dress rehearsal for what we’re going to see if he loses in 2020.”
“I don’t see a scenario where he welcomes the new winner graciously,” Maher predicted.
Woodward who, with Carl Bernstein, famously reported on the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon, reminded Maher that Nixon also “had a lust for political power.”
“Trump understands lust, to say the least,” Woodward said. “It is part of his being, to get power over people and to crush them, to demean them. People in his own party – no one is free from that kind of lashing criticism.”
As he did his reporting for his book, Woodward said he came to realize the closer someone was to Trump, “the more anxiety, and fear, and concerns” that person had.
“They would take documents off his desk – The Secretary of Defense, because Trump would say ‘Why are we doing all of these things, investing in NATO?'”
Finally, the Secretary of Defense explained to Trump they were “doing these things” to prevent World War III.
“Think about that,” Woodward marveled. “This is a year into office that the president has to be tutored on what the job is. I have done this 47 years, and when I learned about that I got a chill.”
Maher brought up Matt Whitaker, in the news this week as the controversial guy Trump named Acting Attorney General when he finally sacked AG Jeff Sessions the morning after the midterm elections.
“To me, this Whitaker guy, that’s a red line: When the top cop of the country is just a stooge, there to do the bidding of the Supreme Leader.”
“That’s the slow moving coup.”
Woodward did not disagree. The Department of Justice “is supposed to deal with the law” and, “as we know, Trump doesn’t care much about the law,” he said. “He’s got these ideas – they masquerade as ideas, but they really are views.”
“And, he doesn’t get them from reading,” Maher snarked, adding, “He gets them from the Department Of People Are Saying.”
Maher challenged reporters – or other Republicans – to ask Trump if he would say, on the record “there is no situation in which a President can serve more than two terms.”
“That’s a red line, and I bet you [Republicans] would hem and haw,” Maher speculated.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.