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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Bob Woodward

Aired November 21, 2005 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, exclusive Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Woodward, caught up in the CIA leak controversy. What did he know about Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame? When did he know it and why didn't he tell his boss for more than two years; Bob Woodward for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Tonight, we welcome Bob Woodward for one of his many appearances to LARRY KING LIVE at our request and he did accept almost immediately.

The assistant managing editor, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, has two number one "New York Times" best sellers. His books have included "The Secret Man," the story of Watergate's Deep Throat and "Plan of Attack." He's currently writing another book.

A little background on November 14th Bob Woodward gave a sworn deposition to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in connection with the public disclosure of the identity of the CIA officer Valerie Plame.

The deposition focused on small portions of interviews that Woodward had done with what he characterizes as three current or former Bush administration officials.

The interviews in question were conducted in June of 2003. Woodward says it was in mid-June that one of those officials told him that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

The hottest parlor game in Washington is trying to guess the identity of the still confidential source. That source has released Woodward to talk to Special Counsel Fitzgerald but not to publicly disclose his or her identity.

This program has come into question because on the night of October 27th in response to rumors that he'd have a bombshell he was on this program. Michael Isikoff of "Newsweek" said the following, watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who was behind the whole thing. So, I don't know maybe this Bob's opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

BOB WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker, I'm sorry. In fact I mean this tells you something about what's the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.

KING: And you (INAUDIBLE) tonight right?

WOODWARD: Finally, this went around that I was going to do tonight or in the paper. Finally, Len Downie who is the editor of "The Washington Post" called me and said, "I hear you have a bombshell. Would you let me in on that?"

KING: So now the rumors are about you?

WOODWARD: And I said I'm sorry to disappoint you but I don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Okay, Robert, what were you not telling us that night?

WOODWARD: Well, first of all, I was telling you the exact truth that I did not have a bombshell or any story for the next day's paper. I did know that back, you know, over two years ago at the end of a very long interview, substantive interview for my book "Plan of Attack" a source had, when I asked about Joe Wilson, told me that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst. At that point and on your show I didn't know what that meant at all because it was such a casual offhand remark.

KING: But should you -- you later apologized. Should you have told your editor?

WOODWARD: Yes. I have a great relationship with Len Downie, the editor of the Post and I was trying to avoid being subpoenaed and I should have, as I have many, many times, taken him into my confidence and I did not.

KING: But did you also know when you came on and these may be difficult things for investigative journalists that you had to talk about the Plame case and yet you knew you couldn't say certain things about it or wouldn't say certain things about it?

WOODWARD: That's true. But every time somebody appears on your show talking about the news or giving some sort of analysis there are going to be things that they can't talk about. It's not at all unusual. There are all kinds of things.

I'm working on a book, "Bush's Second Term." I'm trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. There are things I know that I'm just not going to talk about involving that research.

So, it's an ongoing process and to take a snapshot, which is fair, when that was asked of me I knew in the back of my mind how offhand and casual this was and I was trying to make the underlying point, which I think is very important that it seemed to me there was no crime, underlying crime in this investigation.

In fact, the very next day when the Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald announced he was indicting Libby for perjury, he did not indict anybody for the underlying crime, so he seems to at least at this point agree with that point.

So, I don't find it unusual. I don't find it uncomfortable going back to the Clinton years or all kinds of things we've talked about. I try to give as much information as I can but it is inevitable, if I'm doing my job trying to dig into what's going on in the Bush administration, what is the nature of this war, what is the CIA up to that there are going to be things I know that we can't talk about or I'm not going to bring up most certainly.

KING: In retrospect, Bob, could you have said on the show that night, well to you and your viewers I do have some information, I'm working on it, something was said to me but I can't reveal it? That would have covered this whole thing.

WOODWARD: But that's always the case. That's always the case and that would be, you know, well what is it? You would have asked me what are you working on? Is it bigger than a breadbox? Is it a bombshell? Is it a firecracker? Is it a stick of dynamite and so forth?

That is the nature of this kind of reporting. Remember, I'm trying to figure out what goes on in a very closed secretive White House and have had some success at doing that because of the process, "The Washington Post" giving me time to do these in-depth examinations or books.

KING: Last week the Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell, said "Last week we found out that he (Woodward) kept the kind of information from Downie, the editor that it is a deeply serious sin not to disclose to a boss. That kind can get a good reporter in the dog house for a long time." Why didn't you tell him?

WOODWARD: Because I, you know, I was focused on getting the book done. You know the significance of this is yet to be determined and what's the good news in all of this is when it all comes out, and hopefully it will come out, people will see how casual and offhand this was.

Remember, the investigation and the allegations that people have printed about this story is that there's some vast conspiracy to slime Joe Wilson and his wife, really attack him in an ugly way that is outside of the boundaries of political hardball.

The evidence I had firsthand, small piece of the puzzle I acknowledge, is that that was not the case. So, I'm trying to find out and focus on immense questions about are we going to go to war in Iraq? How are we going to do it? What is the nature of Powell's position? What did Cheney do? What was the CIA's role? How good was the intelligence on all of this?

I think at this point I was learning things like that the CIA Director George Tenet went in and told the president the intelligence on WMD in Iraq was a slam dunk. That was new. That was the basis of this incredibly critical decision the president and his war cabinet were making on do we invade Iraq?

KING: When and why did you finally decide to disclose it to your editor?

WOODWARD: An excellent question. The week of the indictment I was working on something and learned another piece of this puzzle and I told Len Downie about it and I told him about the source and what had been disclosed to me and there was a sense before the indictment, well, this is kind of interesting but it's not clear what it means.

Then, the day of the indictment I read the charges against Libby and looked at the press conference by the special counsel and he said the first disclosure of all of this was on June 23rd, 2003 by Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff to "New York Times" reporter Judy Miller.

I went, whoa, because I knew I had learned about this in mid- June, a week, ten days before, so then I say something is up. There's a piece that the special counsel does not have in all of this.

I then went into incredibly aggressive reporting mode and called the source the beginning of the next week and said "Do you realize when we talked about this and exactly what was said?"

And the source in this case at this moment, it's a very interesting moment in all of this, said "I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to tell the truth."

And so, I realized I was going to be dragged into this that I was the catalyst and then I asked the source "If you go to the prosecutor am I released to testify" and the source told me yes. So it is the reporting process that set all this in motion.

KING: Did you also ask -- I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt. Did you ask the source...

WOODWARD: No.

KING: ...then in view of that why can't I announce your name to the public?

WOODWARD: I did later in the week and the source said no.

KING: We'll take a break.

WOODWARD: And I would love to. OK.

KING: We'll take a break. We'll come right back with Bob Woodward.

As we go to break here is the editor of "The Washington Post" Len Downie. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Deborah Howell, the Post ombudsman writes this morning that the paper took a hit to its credibility and that the Woodward episode put the Post in a terrible light. Do you disagree with that?

LEN DOWNIE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Oh, I think that's for other people to judge and for time to tell but certainly Bob made a mistake and a mistake that he's apologized for and also he made a mistake going on television giving his opinions about the investigation. Whether or not he was holding this secret he shouldn't have been expressing those opinions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL IN CIA LEAK INVESTIGATION: Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July, 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14, 2003 but Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA.

Several other reporters were told. In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And that, Bob, is when you jumped right?

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly and this is where reporting, just like this prosecutor here every bit of information I have he's trying to find out what happened. A reporter, it's not always a straight line from A to B to C and I did jump and I thought what is the significance of this? What is my obligation to get information out to the public?

And that's why I went to my source. And also in that press conference Patrick Fitzgerald said something that really kind of struck me. He said that truth is the engine of the judicial system. And when I testified to him under oath this came up and I said "I like to think that in my business journalism that truth is also one of the engines. At least it's what we aspire to."

And so there is this moment when I realized I have a piece of something. I truly don't know what it means but then I go in a mode where actually some people said, you know, why did you do this? Why not stay out of it? Why get involved?

And all of the juices, my wife Elsa told me this is you could almost just almost hear it the reporting news juices running. And so, I started talking to people and I talked to the source and that process now led us, you know, what a couple of weeks later we know a lot more about this case. And that's what we do in journalism. We try to get more out and this has happened in this case.

KING: Mr. Downie said you should not have given your opinion. Was he correct?

WOODWARD: Yes. I think I was a little hyper and a lot of pent up frustrations that night. And as you have pointed out a number of times, I tend to be very neutral, overly neutral and I think I should find ways of expressing myself that don't look like I'm making a judgment or voicing an opinion but offering analysis or hopefully some new facts.

KING: Do you have concerns about why this source doesn't want he or her to be known for us to know him or her? Wouldn't that concern you?

WOODWARD: Sure, always.

KING: In this truth and nothing to hide government?

WOODWARD: I would love it but here is the issue. The public rightly and passionately wants to know what's going on in government behind the scenes. What's the real story?

I've spent my life trying to find out what's really hidden, what's in the bottom of the barrel? To get what's in the bottom of the barrel you have to establish relationships of confidentiality with people at all levels of government.

You have to establish relationships of trust and then those people will provide you with information and evidence so you can get to the better version, what Carl Bernstein and I used to call the best obtainable version of the truth.

KING: But when you are in that position it's obvious you can also be used for example.

WOODWARD: Sure.

KING: Bob, I'll tell you this and what you release don't mention me will be beneficial to me and you like it because I'm telling you something I didn't tell him, so it's quid pro quo.

WOODWARD: (INAUDIBLE). No it's not quid pro quo. That's what's nice about the process and the method of going to everybody else involved. And in these matters in the Bush administration I've been able to do two books.

I've been able to interview President Bush for the last book "Plan of Attack" for three and a half hours over two days, no limitations on questions, no practical limitation on time.

It was like -- people who have read the transcript said it's like a deposition. Why did you do this? Cheney said this. How about this intelligence? So, all the stuff, all the material I've gained from confidential sources and documents and notes and so forth can be tested in this case with the president who is on the record and if he wants to say, oh, that's not true or offer his point of view, as he does, then that will be included.

So, everyone in the end, you can't do this for a daily newspaper story, pretty much gets their point of view out.

KING: But don't you have to in that sense sort of like him? He's given you three hours. He'll help you with the next book. Doesn't that give him an edge with you?

WOODWARD: He is giving his position. You know an edge in what sense do you mean an edge?

KING: Well he's not going to come out looking terrible because you want him for your next book and you'd like to have that in.

WOODWARD: But, you know, I would never compromise. You know, if I may, I brought some headlines in "The Washington Post." Do these make any sense?

KING: I think so. Hold them up a little.

WOODWARD: Yes, OK.

KING: Or you can read them.

WOODWARD: Yes, OK, this is November, 2002 before -- as the book "Bush at War" came out about the war in Afghanistan, "A struggle for the president's heart and mind" -- struggle. It explains in great detail how Powell had different positions. There was immense tension and difficulties in the war council.

Let's see this is the second part of that series, "Doubts and Debate Before Victory Over the Taliban," doubts and debate. Now, anyone who knows anything about the Bush administration they'd rather keep doubts and debate off stage. I bring them on stage in this book.

You know I don't want to go on but "The New York Times" front page when the book "Plan of Attack" came out last year, "Airing of Powell's Misgivings Tests Cabinet Ties" and says the book jolted the White House and aggravated long festering tensions in the Bush cabinet.

So, I'm not compromising anything and anyone who looks at the books or the coverage will see that it has some pretty tough stuff in it. At the same time, the president or others get to express their point of view.

KING: Let me get a break.

WOODWARD: I believe that's journalism.

KING: We'll come right back with a man who some think when they see journalism in the dictionary get his picture, Bob Woodward. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If during the course of the public trial information comes out with regard to other people who have leaked, the source of the leak or other people who have disclosed Ms. Plame's identity, would this then reverberate back to you since you have been studying this if new information is forthcoming during the course of the trial?

FITZGERALD: If I can take it with -- answer your question with a bucket of cold water and say let's not read too much into it. Any new information that would ever come to light while the investigation open -- is open would be handled by our investigative team concerning these facts.

So, if there's anything that we haven't learned yet that we learn that should be addressed we will address it but I don't want to create any great expectations out there by giving sort of a general answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODWARD: There's a lot of innocent actions in all of this but what has happened this prosecutor, I mean I used to call Mike Isikoff when he worked at "The Washington Post" the junkyard dog. Well, this is a junkyard dog prosecutor and he goes everywhere and asks every question and turns over rocks and rocks under rocks and so forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And, Bob, adding to that on NPR this summer you said, "I think when all the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great." Have you changed your mind?

WOODWARD: You know it's an ongoing story but just let me take what I said to you on the eve of these indictments of Scooter Libby. I called him the junkyard prosecutor. I think that's a term I shouldn't use because it's easily ripped out of context.

Mike Isikoff was there. Mike Isikoff I hired at "The Washington Post" many years ago. I used to laugh and call him a junkyard dog reporter as a compliment because he never gives up. And here on the eve of this indictment I'm saying this prosecutor looks everywhere, looks under every rock.

Well the irony is the next day I learned that he was missing a significant piece that -- or it might be a significant piece and it involved me so I'm one of the rocks he never turned over in an interesting way. And, as people have rightly written, so, you know, what do we know about this? It went on for two years. A piece was missed.

KING: But you still wouldn't -- you still wouldn't say you think the consequences are not great.

WOODWARD: Could be that the consequences are not great. Certainly the charge against Scooter Libby is about as serious as you can get.

KING: Sure.

WOODWARD: But the issue was there some sort of conspiracy or organized effort or effort by one person to out, to disclose publicly that Joe Wilson's wife was an undercover operative I haven't yet seen evidence of that. Now, in this case we all get surprised me at the top of the list.

KING: Doesn't it appear a little that way though when your other source won't let it be public who he or she is? That sounds conspiratorial.

WOODWARD: It may be but I pressed that source as much as you can and I'm not going to -- if you remember back into Watergate and Mark Felt, the number two in the FBI who was the source "Deep Throat" we kept that secret for 33 years because the source insisted upon it.

And what does that mean just in the practical world? That I can go around and get information from people and they know they're going to be protected. I'm not going to go out and risk that and do something.

You know I am protecting not a person but a relationship and the information I get for my newspaper and books and that's the vital lifeline. Now, if we want to come up with a system that prevents people from providing that information, you know, what are we going to do? I mean take the yard off junkyard, it will be junk because our portrait of government will be false.

KING: Didn't you once call Fitzgerald though disgraceful?

WOODWARD: No. I said it is disgraceful that we have an investigation where reporters are being subpoenaed and jailed.

KING: Oh.

WOODWARD: And again I should find words that say I hate it. I don't like it. I think it is not good public policy. I think people really do need to know what's going on in government and if this is going to become a habit watch out.

KING: We'll be right back with Bob Woodward on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Jerry Seinfeld will be with us tomorrow night and Wednesday night Judge Stephen Breyer of the United States Supreme Court.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post," who's currently writing another book on this administration.

You got a working title yet, by the way?

WOODWARD: I do not. Have to see, you know, what's the -- a lot of it's about Iraq, obviously. But it's not even a year into this second term.

KING: OK. Your source, did the source indicate whether Mrs. Plame was an undercover agent or a desk analyst?

WOODWARD: Good question. And specifically said that -- the source did -- that she was a WMD, weapons of mass destruction, analyst. Now, I've been covering the CIA for over three decades, and analysts, except -- in fact, I don't even know of a case. Maybe there are cases. But they're not undercover. They are people who take other information and analyze it.

And so -- and if you were there at this moment in mid-June when this was said, there was no suggestion that it was sensitive, that it was secret.

KING: How did it even come up?

WOODWARD: Came up because I asked about Joe Wilson, because a few days before, my colleague at the "Washington Post," Walter Pincus, had a front-page story, saying there was an unnamed envoy -- there was no name given -- who had gone to Niger the year before to investigate for the CIA if there was some Niger-Iraq uranium deal or yellow cake deal.

I learned that that ambassador's name was Joe Wilson, which was, you know, Wilson eventually surfaced...

KING: I see.

WOODWARD: ... I guess a few weeks later. So I said to this source, long substantive interview about the road to war. You know, at the end of an interview like this, after you're doing an interview on television, you might just shoot the breeze for a little while. And so, I asked about Wilson, and he said this.

KING: I see.

WOODWARD: Most kind of off-hand.

KING: All right.

WOODWARD: One of those things. And so I -- I didn't think much of it.

KING: What did Libby say when you were with him? Was that a more complete discussion?

WOODWARD: No. Now this is what's interesting. And I had two -- one phone conversation and one long interview with Libby during this period. I had questioned lists that had hundreds of questions, one of them Joe Wilson's wife. I had no recollection at all that I asked about Joe Wilson's wife. I'm taking extensive notes. Libby said nothing about Joe Wilson's wife or about this in any way at that time.

So if he was involved in something like this, at least he decided -- when I say this, somehow outing her -- he decided not to converse with me about it. But because it's on a question list, and this is why Fitzgerald was turning over every rock.

He said, "Well, is it possible you asked -- in other words, that you conveyed to Libby that you knew Joe Wilson's wife worked in the CIA? Because it's on a question list."

And my sworn testimony is that it's possible. I certainly don't recall it, and he certainly said nothing. But after long interviews and you have long lists of questions, you can't really say, "Gee, did I ask that or that." At least, two years later, I can't. Maybe the next day I might have been able to.

KING: There's been some criticism as to why you agreed to submit written questions to Vice President Cheney, which is normally not your bag. Why?

WOODWARD: Yes, I don't -- somebody has questioned that. In my book, "Plan of Attack," I outline how I sent a 21-page memo to President Bush with the chronology and some of the questions I wanted to ask, in no sense limiting the questions. And I've done that with Cheney, and I've done that with other people.

It is an aid and a way to say, "This is the period of time I want to cover, some of the issues, some of the, quite frankly, things I've learned that you may not be comfortable with or some of the secrets in all of this," and then let the person respond. But no one has ever said, OK, that's not on the list, you can't ask that question. So...

KING: ... did you meet with Cheney?

WOODWARD: Not in this period.

KING: Did you meet with him for the other book, though? It wasn't just rigid questions, or was it?

WOODWARD: The people who are on record for the second book, for "Plan of Attack," are the president and Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense. All the other interviews are on background. So again, I'm not going to go parading a list of people I talked to.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bob Woodward. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED WELLS, LEWIS LIBBY'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Libby is very grateful to Bob Woodward for coming forth and telling the truth. We are also very grateful for Mr. Woodward's source, who permitted Mr. Woodward to come forward. All we want in this case is for the truth to come out.

And we urge all reporters who have relevant information to do like Mr. Woodward did today and come forward with the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was Scooter Libby's attorney, Ted Wells.

Two questions. What do you feel like, being involved in a story, rather than covering it? Because that's what this is. And number two does Libby know who your source is?

WOODWARD: I don't know the answer to the second question, what Libby knows about this. You know, you get gratitude from people, and from strange places, and then there is the same, beware of what you wish for.

And sometimes -- that's a lawyer defending Libby, and that's our system. And, you know, don't be surprised if I get denounced by them at some point in this. That happens in journalism, but I am strictly in the middle. I don't wear a uniform. I'm not red state or blue state in this.

I did provide information in this case about Libby.

KING: What was that like, by the way? What was it like to be deposed?

WOODWARD: No, that's a good question. I guess it was just a week ago. It was in the offices of Wilmer Cutler, a law firm here in Washington, and my lawyer, Howard Shapiro, a former FBI general counsel, somebody I would turn to again, a superb lawyer.

And it was in a conference room, court reporter. I'm sworn. This is like the grand jury. Patrick Fitzgerald is there.

The head FBI agent, and one of Fitzgerald's deputies. Howard Shapiro on my right, Eric Lieberman, one of "The Post" attorneys, Bill Murphy, my assistant who happens to be a lawyer, an old army JAG lawyer, and a woman, named Jacqueline Moyer (ph) from Wilmer Cutler.

So, we're there. It's Patrick Fitzgerald is a very direct questioner. He had lots of--he questioned. He would check it off.

KING: Any you refused to answer?

WOODWARD: No, nothing. I was able to answer every question. And I'm grateful that Howard Shapiro and he -- you know, this is a classic awful situation that has sent one reporter to jail, and lots of hand wringing, and doubts within news organizations, "New York Times" and Time Magazine."

In a way I think, because they went first, we were able to learn some lessons here. Namely, get releases from everyone. I got specific releases directed to me waving all confidentiality, and not just saying you can testify, saying, we request you testify.

This is from the unnamed source, this is from White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and from Scooter Libby.

KING: What would you have done if the source had said don't tell them, and you were subpoenaed to deposition. Would you refuse?

WOODWARD: That is a situation I have not had to deal with in this case. But of course, when I went into my aggressive reporting mode, I didn't know exactly what was going to happen.

Now, if I hadn't done that, and the source had said, keep quiet, it's confidential. Then the special counsel in this case, Fitzgerald, wouldn't have known, I guess, and I would have stayed out of it.

You know, I don't like this is a mighty uncomfortable situation, but think how much more we now know about this story, just in the last week.

And yes, some people are unhappy, and angry about my role, but you know, you keep running into situations as a reporter, where you're going to go. And it may be a little rough for awhile, but you're still doing your job.

KING: Back with more of Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post" don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward.

With all those people at the deposition, do you feel that one of them might leak? Hey, it's Washington.

WOODWARD: Yes. That's quite possible. And that's something you have to deal with. My lawyers aren't going to, and I'm not going to do it. You know, we --the publisher of "The Post," Bo Jones, talked to recently and as we were going through this.

He's the one who as publisher in representing the business side and the news side reports to him, he raised the flag highest in our internal discussions about protecting confidential sources. He used to be "The Post" general counsel. He's a lawyer, and he knows that you have to protect those sources, at all costs.

KING: Does Mr. Downey know your new source? The source not yet named?

WOODWARD: Does he know who it is? Yes, he does.

KING: As Ben Bradlee knew in the Watergate.

WOODWARD: That's exactly right.

KING: If you had...

WOODWARD: Hopefully, this isn't going...

KING: I'm sorry go ahead.

WOODWARD: Hopefully, this isn't going to be 33 years until we find out exactly what happened.

KING: What if someone else finds it out? Fair game?

WOODWARD: That's fair game.

KING: If you had to do it all over, what would you change? Obviously you would tell Downey.

WOODWARD: Yes.

KING: What else?

WOODWARD: And then as he has said, as Len has said, we would have worked. And, you know, it's a matter of record, and it's a matter of my sworn testimony.

I made efforts to get the source, this year, earlier, and last year, to give me some information about this so I could put something in the newspaper or a book. So, I could get information out, and totally failed.

So, Len has acknowledged if he knew, there would have been nothing different in all of this. Len is not--Ben Bradlee's predecessor was a very colorful figure well know. Len is less so, but is--and it's not my nature, but I'll say this. He's the best newspaper person in the country. And he was one of our editors on Watergate 30 years ago.

And so I've known him through, you know, presidencies, Iran- Contra, all the Clinton scandals, you name it. And somebody I totally trust. He's a busy man. And I should have made the contact and told him about this.

KING: Would he...

WOODWARD: But I'm not sure anything would be different.

KING: What happens if another "Post" reporter finds out who it is? Would Downie prevent him from printing it?

WOODWARD: You know, he -- I think Len has said he would not, if it was independently established. People spent -- I hate to keep going back to this -- 33 years trying to figure out who Deep Throat was. They wrote articles, books, TV specials about it, and so forth.

And I was never delighted that people were trying to chase down that source; I'm not delighted in this case. But it's part of the process. KING: Doesn't it, just emotionally -- I've known you a long time -- give you any inertia? Don't you want to say it? I mean, isn't there...

(LAUGHTER)

No, no, I'm not kidding.

WOODWARD: Good try. Good try.

KING: No, no, everybody wants to say over the back fence, "Did you hear?" Who doesn't want to do that?

WOODWARD: Yes. But this isn't a back fence issue. This is about -- you know, if I treated it that way, no one would trust me. And I'm not treating it that way. I'm treating it with the utmost seriousness.

And what I was going to say about the special counsel, Fitzgerald, is that he and Howard Shapiro found a path through all of this where I could answer all the questions, provide what information and evidence I had to the special counsel, and he never asked about something that had to do with confidential conversations on other issues, on matters unrelated to this investigation.

So, quite frankly, I was astounded that we were able to do this, because other people got in this confrontation with him. He was quite respectful of the First Amendment. And he has said publicly he's not looking for a First Amendment showdown. Well, he demonstrated that.

So his -- there was a balancing that went on here, quite frankly. And this is -- this is part of the learning for me, that I did not think was possible. But in this case, it worked.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bob Woodward right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARD DOWNIE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: Bob has become very famous, and it's difficult to cope with that kind of fame, I think, for anybody. But also give him extraordinary access. I think if you just look at his books and look at his work product in the newspaper, you'll see that he plays it straight. He reveals things about the inner workings of the administration that people need to know that no other reporter reveals, and he does it in a straight and accurate and fair way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In our remaining moments, do you think your reputation's been harmed?

WOODWARD: I mean, that's for other people to judge. KING: Do you think so?

WOODWARD: You know, I -- I think the biggest mistake you can make in this sort of situation as a reporter is to worry about yourself. And the issue here is what happened, what can I aggressively push to get in the newspaper or a book, and then in the end, you can deal with this.

Thirty-three years ago during Nixon and Watergate, I was 29- years-old. And there was a daily drumbeat denouncing Carl Bernstein and myself and saying the stories are lies, they're fabrications, they're untrue. That we're using anonymous sources and that there's some political motive and so forth. And that was -- that's how I got into this business, and -- and Ben Bradlee, the editor just, you know, "Be cool. Stick to it."

KING: And by the way, have you talked to him?

WOODWARD: Pardon? Yes.

KING: Was he supportive?

WOODWARD: He takes -- I mean, I'm going to quote him. This is the way Ben talks. He said, "Woodward doesn't have to tell anyone every goddamn thing he knows." And the -- you know, I -- I disagree with that. If Ben were around and I would have told him, and I should have told Len in this case.

But the -- you know, the issue of what's this about looms really large. And I remember, because it's seared in my head, going back to Watergate. Katharine Graham once asked about when are we going to find out the truth? When is everything going to come out?

And I said, "Never."

And she looked at me with this glare and this sense of pain. And she said, "Never? Don't tell me never."

And that was not a threat. That was a statement of purpose.

KING: And I'll ask it. When is this whole thing going to end?

WOODWARD: I don't know. We'll keep chipping at it and running at it. And people will write things, and there will be controversy. And welcome to American journalism.

KING: Do you still feel sorry about Judy Miller?

WOODWARD: Sure. I mean, she -- I don't know all the facts in that case. And so I'm -- you know, and there's more that have come out, and so forth. And I'm -- you know, the reporters -- and when I say, "Don't think about yourself," I mean the other reporters, also. What's the story? What can we tell people about this?

And then I go back to Bradlee again. He said, "The truth emerges." KING: Thanks very much, Bob, as always. Always good having you with us.

WOODWARD: Thanks.

KING: And we appreciate your coming here tonight.

Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post." Still lots more to learn. And we're going to do our best to try to find out all we can. And Woodward will be on the scene, as well. Bob Woodward.

Tomorrow night, Jerry Seinfeld is our special guest. And on Wednesday night, Judge Stephen Breyer, justice, United States Supreme Court.

Right now, our supreme pleasure to turn the podium over to Anderson Cooper and "ANDERSON COOPER 360." See you tomorrow.

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