President Donald Trump told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in a February phone call that the coronavirus was “deadly stuff,” before he publicly spent months downplaying the virus, according to Woodward’s new book.
In late January, Trump’s national security adviser warned him that, “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.”
Less than two weeks later, Trump called Woodward and told the iconic journalist, “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.”
The president added, “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” according to the Washington Post’s preview of the book which will be titled “Rage.”
This is the tape: 🔊pic.twitter.com/ozX8O8fVKm— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) September 9, 2020
Trump even outlined his strategy in a March phone call to Woodward, saying, “I wanted to always play it down.”
“Rage” is scheduled to be released on September 15 and draws from 18 interviews that Woodward conducted with Trump over the course of his presidency.
President Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus, even into the summer, he has said that he expects that the virus will “disappear.”
Trump: "I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 1, 2020
Fox: "You still believe so, disappear?"
Trump: "Well, I do." pic.twitter.com/RXITpPbI4K
In a Fox interview over the summer, Trump said, “I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
Trump continued to talk to Woodward, despite repeatedly trashing him on Twitter. In 2018, after Woodward released his first book on the Trump presidency, titled “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Trump lashed out against the journalist.
In a September 2018 tweet, he wrote, “The Woodward book is a scam. I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up.”
A few days later, the president wrote, “The Woodward book is a Joke – just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources.”