“It is one of those shocks, for me, having written about nine presidents, that the president of the United States possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives, and historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years,” Mr. Woodward, author of the book “Rage,” said on NBC’s “Today” show.
The journalist compared it to a situation if President Franklin D. Roosevelt misled the public on the truth about the Pearl Harbor attack, saying Mr. Trump should have issued a stronger warning.
The president spoke to Mr. Woodward more than a dozen times for his upcoming new book, “Rage.” The excerpts made headlines last week after they revealed Mr. Trump knew how serious COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, would be in February, but Mr. Trump said he intentionally downplayed it in public to avoid a panic.
Mr. Woodward also defended his decision not to publish what he knew earlier, when pressed how he grappled with the discrepancy between his interviews with the president and Mr. Trump’s public statements.
Why didn’t you publish this information until now? -@SavannahGuthrie asks @realBobWoodward about his book that reveals President Trump downplayed the coronavirus to the American public. pic.twitter.com/udYPnonSd7— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 14, 2020
“If there was any suggestion that I had that this was about the United States, I would have, of course, published,” he said. “In May, three months later, I learned the key piece of evidence. … In Jan 28, Trump was warned in a top-secret meeting that the virus was going to be ‘the greatest national security threat to your presidency.’ “
There have been 6,520,733 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 194,087 deaths to date, according to data from John Hopkins University. The U.S. has a population of almost 330 million.
“I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you’re not supposed to because everyone says, ‘What a horrible guy,’” Mr. Trump said in the audio clip. “But, you know, for me, it works out good. It’s funny the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them.
“You’ll explain that to me someday, OK? But maybe it’s not a bad thing. The easy ones are the ones I maybe don’t like as much or don’t get along with as much,” the president continued.
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