August 17, 2016
Following is a transcript of Bob Costas’ interview with Matt Lauer, who spoke to Ryan Lochte tonight.
Bob Costas: “Matt you spoke with Ryan Lochte via phone. He is back in the United States. Where was he when you spoke to him?”
Matt Lauer: “He said he was home. He didn’t want to get into too many specifics…He said he arrived home on Wednesday, today. He left Rio on schedule. This was the day he had always planned to arrive back home.
Nobody — he said when he was talking about that victims statement that he gave to the police — he said nobody, at the time he was talking to anybody in law enforcement said, ‘it would be a great idea if you stick around Rio while the investigation unfolds. We might want to talk to you.’
He went out of his way to say that he told them he was reachable, he would cooperate and that they could get to him through his agent or his lawyer. And he was interesting in his characterization of that meeting with police, that victims’ statement. He said it was casual, it was friendly, it was vague. They didn’t ask him a lot of questions. They did ask him what the gun looked like and what was taken from him. He said that he had a home burglary back in the States and he compared the questioning by police after that home burglary with what he went through here in Rio. He said ‘back in the States it was much more thorough, much more intense.’ And he seemed somewhat surprised by how few questions they asked him here, considering he just told them he was held up at gunpoint.”
Costas: “Did he say that the Brazilian authorities expressed any skepticism at all about his account?”
Lauer: “He said never during the questioning did they question his truthfulness. As a matter of fact, they seemed to support everything he said. At one point he said to me they said thank you and they congratulated him on his performance here at the Games.”
Costas: “In his conversation with you did he alter any of the details, tweak his story in any way?”
Lauer: “He did. He stuck to most of the story. He did change one thing. I would say he softened some things, or stepped back. One thing he did not say this time. He didn’t say he was pulled over by these people pretending to be police. They had gone to the bathroom in a gas station. They got back to the taxi and when they told the taxi driver to ‘go,’ he didn’t move. They said ‘let’s go again, we have got to get out of here’ and again the taxi driver didn’t move. And that is when he says two men approached the car with guns and badges and told them to get out and get on the ground. The three other swimmers, that you mentioned, did get on the ground. They sat on the curb. Lochte did not. He said ‘I have no reason to get on the ground.’
Now when he talked to Billy Bush on Sunday, he said that is when the guy took the gun put it to his forehead and cocked it. When he talked to me tonight, he said ‘that is when the guy pointed the gun in my direction and cocked it.’ And I pointedly said to him ‘you had said before it was placed on your forehead and cocked.’ He said, ‘No, that is not exactly what happened.’ I think he feels it was more of a traumatic mischaracterization. I think people listening at home might think that it was an embellishment at the time. But that is up for people to decide.”
Costas: “Obviously you and I have no particular knowledge of this but we know that the following thought is going through peoples’ minds. They can’t reach a conclusion, at least not a reasonable conclusion. But maybe there is no criminality involved here on either side, but there may be something of a personal nature that would have been embarrassing. So someone concocts a story, as people sometimes do, to cover it up.”
Lauer: “And I asked him about that pointedly. I said ‘Ryan, there are people out here, there is skepticism that you made this story up along with these other swimmers to cover up some other form of embarrassing behavior. That this was more about some swimmers blowing off a little steam, going out and celebrating that perhaps you were even with someone you shouldn’t have been with.’ He stopped me quickly. He strongly denied that. He said it is absolutely not the case. ‘I wouldn’t make up a story like this, nor would the others. As a matter of fact we all feel it makes us look bad. We are victims in this and we are happy that we are safe.’
He also said something interesting, Bob. He said originally he didn’t want to tell this story because he and the other swimmers felt that they had broken some kind of a rule of either the USOC or the swim team by being out at that hour and drinking. It was only after he realized that in fact being 21-years-old that they hadn’t broken any rules, that he decided to tell the story in the first place.”
Costas: “Matt, thank you. For now, at least, that is about as thorough as it gets.”
Click here for a video of the segment:http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/ryan-lochte-talks-matt-lauer-about-alleged-robbery