Bob Woodward gets his scoop. The renowned journalist who got his start as part of the duo responsible for uncovering the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon has since won two Pulitzer Prizes and written bestselling books on nine sitting Presidents, including Donald Trump.
His next book on President Trump called, Rage, is set to be released on Sept. 15, but in an early read by the Washington Post, the paper is reporting that Trump admitted that early on in the coronavirus pandemic he “played down” the seriousness of the situation to avoid panic. That conversation was recorded and can be heard, along with others, in a Washington Post article, but also, on CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju’s Twitter Feed.
Trump tells Woodward he played down the threat of the coronavirus.
"I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic."
He also tells Woodward that "plenty of young people" are vulnerable — different from his public message pic.twitter.com/fJZUZtJTIv
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 9, 2020
In the recorded conversation, Trump tells Woodward on March 19 that “some startling facts have come out,” and it’s not “just old people” who are being hit hard by the virus, but younger people too. But even still, he said, “To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want people to panic.”
Trump Told Woodward That COVID-19 Is ‘Deadly’ But Later Told Fox News 99.7% of Cases are in People Who Will Get Better
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) July 19, 2020
Early in the pandemic, on Feb. 7 Trump told Woodward he’d spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and they mostly spoke about the virus. Trump said in a recorded interview posted in the Washington Post’s article:
I think he’s gonna have it in good shape but you know it’s a very tricky situation. It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch, you know the touch, you don’t have to touch things right, but the air. You just breathe the air — that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than your, you know, your even your strenuous flu, you know, people don’t realize we lose 25,000, 30,000, people a year here, who would ever think that, right? And then I say, well is that the same thing? This is more deadly. This is 5% versus 1% and less than 1% you know, so, this is deadly stuff.
Only a few months later in July, Trump told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace that he doesn’t try to play down the seriousness of the virus. During the interview, Wallace was asking about the numbers of positive cases and deaths, and Trump was responding with the amount of testing being done in the U.S. being far superior to anywhere else in the world, but said, “Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test. Many of them — don’t forget, I guess it’s like 99.7 percent, people are going to get better and in many cases, they’re going to get better very quickly.”
Wallace said, “I’m, I’m going to do you a favor, because I’m sure a lot of people listening right now are going to say, “Trump, he tries to play it down, he tries to make it not being as serious as it is.”
To that, The President responded, “I don’t play it — I’m not playing — no, this is very serious.”
In the same interview with Wallace, Trump took responsibility for not having a national plan for combatting the virus, saying, “Look, I take responsibility always for everything because it’s ultimately my job, too. I have to get everybody in line. Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly. They’re supposed to have supplies they didn’t have. I supplied everybody.”
Yet in his last interview with Woodward on July 21 Trump told the veteran journalist, “The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault.”
Woodward’s New Book Discusses Dr. Anthony Fauci Working With Trump But Being Frustrated With The President’s Lack of an Attention Span
According to the Washington Post, the book covers Trump’s dealings with White House colleagues (he calls them derogatory names and denigrates their intelligence) his feelings on the Black Lives Matter movement (he can’t relate), his meetings with Kim Jong-Un (calling him “far beyond smart”) and brags that the U.S. has a secret new weapons system that no one is supposed to know about.
Dr. Fauci was among those Woodward spoke to or was privy to during meetings, the Washington Post reported that according to Woodward’s book, Fauci said Trump “’is on a separate channel’ and unfocused in meetings, with ‘rudderless’ leadership. ‘His attention span is like a minus number. His sole purpose is to get re-elected.’”
Fauci also reportedly expressed his concern for having Trump speak on the pandemic after a time when he’d made “false statements” according to the Washington Post, saying in front of the president, “We can’t let the president be out there being vulnerable, saying something that’s going to come back and bite him.”