Journalist Bob Woodward, who has a book titled “Rage” being released September 15th, had been given access to Trump for 18 wide-ranging interviews. The interviews were recorded by Woodward with Trump’s permission, and CNN has obtained copies of some of the audiotapes. They are from sessions between December 5, 2019, to July 21, 2020.
“This is deadly stuff,” Trump had told Woodward on February 7. In a series of interviews, Trump revealed that he had a very high level of detail about the threat of the coronavirus earlier than previously known. “Pretty amazing,” Trump told Woodward, saying that the coronavirus was maybe five times “more deadly” than the flu.
Back in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and then in March, the president admitted that he kept that information hidden from the public.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, although he had declared a national emergency several days earlier. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
On March 19, Trump told Woodward he was purposely downplaying the dangers to avoid creating a panic.
Here’s the transcript from that call.
Trump: Now it’s turning out its not just old people, Bob. Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old- older.
Woodward: Yeah, exactly.
Trump: Young people too, plenty of young people.
Woodward: So, give me-
Trump: So what’s going on-
Woodward: -a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of, it caused a pivot in your mind. Because it’s clear, just from what’s on the public record that you went through a pivot on this to, ‘oh my god, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable.’
Trump: Well I think, Bob, really, to be honest with you-
Woodward: Sure, I want you to be.
Trump: I wanted to- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.
The book highlights how Trump has taken credit but not any of the responsibility for his actions related to the coronavirus as it has infected 6 million Americans and killed more than 185,000 in the US.
“The virus has nothing to do with me,” Trump told Woodward in their final interview in July. “It’s not my fault. It’s — China let the damn virus out.”