Donald Trump sues journalist Bob Woodward over audio recordings

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter conducted 19 interviews with former US president from 2019-2020

Former US president Donald Trump claims that Rage author Bob Woodward did not have permission to release the audio recordings. AP
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Former US president Donald Trump has announced he is suing Bob Woodward after the journalist released audio recordings of an interview he conducted for his book Rage.

Woodward, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Watergate scandal five decades ago, conducted 19 interviews with the former president between December 2019 and August 2020.

Rage was published in September 2020 and Woodward published an audiobook on the interviews, called The Trump Tapes, a month later.

The lawsuit — filed against Woodward, publisher Simon & Schuster and parent company Paramount Global — states that Mr Trump did not give permission for Woodward to release the audio of the interviews even though the former president gave him permission to record them.

“This case centres on Mr Woodward’s systematic usurpation, manipulation and exploitation of audio of President Trump,” Mr Trump’s lawyers wrote.

epa06998119 (FILE) - Washington Post legend, 1973 Pulitzer Prize winner, Bob Woodward arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, USA, 03 January 2017. Media reports on 05 September 2018 state that Bob Woodward has written a new book 'Fear', claiming that Trump White House is dysfunctional.  EPA/ALBIN LOHR-JONES / POOL

Mr Trump is seeking close to $50 million in damages.

“This was an open and blatant attempt to make me look as bad as possible,” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Simon & Schuster told Bloomberg that Mr Trump's lawsuit is “without merit”.

“All these interviews were on the record and recorded with President Trump’s knowledge and agreement. Moreover, it is in the public interest to have this historical record in Trump’s own words,” the publisher said.

Woodward told CNN that his interviews with Mr Trump were “done voluntarily” and “all on the record”.

Mr Trump has sued media companies before over reports that he found unfavourable to him.

His 2020 presidential campaign filed libel lawsuits against The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN over reporting related to his relationship and business dealings with Russia. Judges in New York and Georgia tossed out the cases against the Times and CNN.

Another lawsuit of Mr Trump's filed against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and others was similarly tossed by a judge in Florida. In that lawsuit, Mr Trump alleged the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and other defendants conspired against him by tying his presidential campaign to Russia.

Deriding Mr Trump as a “prolific and sophisticated litigant” who games the court system to “seek revenge on political adversaries”, the judge ordered the former president and his lawyer to pay a $1 million fine.

Watergate scandal — in pictures

Bloomberg contributed to this report

Updated: January 31, 2023, 4:28 PM