Recorded Interviews Show Trump Deliberately Misled Americans About COVID-19

(cover image via Amazon)

Bob Woodward, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose reporting on the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon, has released excerpts from his upcoming book, Rage, which includes on-the-record interviews (there’s tape!) with Donald Trump from early December 2019 to July 2020.

Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times on a wide range of topics. The interviews were recorded by Woodward with Trump’s permission, and CNN has obtained copies of some of the audiotapes.

From CNN:

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. “Pretty amazing,” Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times “more deadly” than the flu.

Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and “all work out fine.”

The book, using Trump’s own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office. In “Rage,” Trump says the job of a president is “to keep our country safe.” But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

(screen captures via CNN)

Instead, Trump’s decisions allowed many Americans to doubt the severity of the virus and nearly 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Even earlier, on January 28 the discussion turned to the coronavirus outbreak in China during a national security briefing with Trump. “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

The new book also includes some tough opinions from many of Trump’s former top national security officials on his presidency.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis is quoted as calling Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” to be commander in chief.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he “continued to harbor the secret belief, one that had grown rather than lessened, although unsupported by intelligence proof, that Putin had something on Trump.” Woodward writes that Coats felt, “How else to explain the president’s behavior? Coats could see no other explanation.”

You can hear some of Trump’s chat with Woodward in the tweet below, and much more on CNN here.

New Book “FEAR” Chronicles Backstage Drama In The Trump White House

Donald Trump

Lots of news today about veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, Fear, which Woodward says is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with current and past White House staffers.

In one passage, Woodward says Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top-economic adviser, was very unhappy about Trump’s “both sides to blame” comment regarding a neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville.

And Trump allegedly felt calling out the neo-nazis was “the biggest fucking mistake” he’d ever made.

Via The Washington Post:

Gary Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

In another anecdote, according to Woodward, Trump’s advisers all had different nicknames for the president.

Via CNN:

Chief of staff John Kelly describes Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Woodward reports. Defense Secretary James Mattis describes Trump as having the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader.” And Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd describes the President as “a fucking liar,” telling Trump he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

It looks to be a fascinating read. Check out a lengthy list of episodes chronicled in the book here.

The White House has predictably denied allegations in the book and called it a “pathetic attempt to smear people” close to the president.