Journalist Bob Woodward defended his decision to wait until September to release proof that President Trump knew and downplayed how “deadly” the coronavirus was back in February and March.
“In February, I thought it was all about China,” Woodward told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on Monday’s “Today.”
The veteran journalist, whose book “Rage” drops Tuesday, continued, “Because the President had told me about a discussion with Chinese President Xi — and if you look at what was known in February — the virus was not on anyone’s mind. No one was suggesting changing behavior. Then when it exploded in March, as you know, there were 30,000 new cases a day. Publishing something at that point would not have been telling people anything they didn’t know. They knew very clearly that it was dangerous.”
Guthrie pushed Woodward, saying, “You know, understanding that hindsight is 20/20 vision and it may have taken time to put at the pieces together, one thing was abundantly clear: He tells you on February 7th this is five times more deadly than the flu and it’s airborne. Then, in the weeks following, he was saying it was just a flu and it would ‘disappear.’ You knew right then and there there was a contradiction between what he told you and what he was telling the public.”
Woodward, who’s faced mounting criticism for sitting on audio of the president saying he intentionally downplayed the threat until just before the September release of his second Trump administration tell-all, responded, “If there was any suggestion I had that was about the United States, I would have of course published. I think I have public health — public safety — responsibility, but there was no indication in February. In March, everyone knew what Trump had told me that it applied to the United States. The key here, Savannah, is that in May, three months later, I learned the key piece of evidence: That on January 28th, 10 days before that February call, the president was warned by his national security adviser in a top-secret meeting that the virus is going to be the greatest national security threat to your presidency.”
In a Washington Post article last Wednesday, it was revealed that on Feb. 7, Trump told Woodward that the coronavirus was “deadly stuff” and more serious than “your strenuous flu.”
In public remarks Feb. 26, Trump told the public the coronavirus was “like a regular flu.”
Watch above, via Today.