After covering 9 presidents, he said, it was jarring to see Trump withhold information from Americans 'that could have saved lives.'
Journalist Bob Woodward on Monday said that Donald Trump's refusal to tell the public early on about the dangers posed by the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 194,000 people so far, was a "shock" to him.
Trump "could have saved lives" if he had simply told the American people what he himself knew as early as February, Woodward said — that the virus was more deadly than the flu and could result in catastrophe if not contained properly.
Woodward said that after covering nine presidents, Trump's behavior was especially concerning to him. The veteran reporter said he learned when speaking to Trump for his forthcoming book "Rage" that Trump "possessed ... specific knowledge" about the virus's threat but did not inform the public in his Feb. 4 State of the Union speech.
Woodward, who has himself faced criticism for the delayed release of audio from his interviews with Trump, then unfavorably compared Trump's actions to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor, saying that if Trump "had told the American people the truth, a lot more could have been done."
From the Sept. 14 edition of NBC's "Today Show":
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, co-host: Your book shows that it wasn't the president up against the world, but that his advisers actually said, You should do this, and he said OK.
BOB WOODWARD: Yes, absolutely. And look, when I learned in May about the Jan. 28 meeting and the specificity — the national security adviser and his deputy were giving details to the president about why this is a coming pandemic to the United States.
A few days later, [Trump] gave his State of the Union address to Congress. Forty million people watched it. He had an opportunity ... He said, "Well, we're doing everything possible."
At that moment, if like Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor, he had told the American people the truth, a lot more could have been done.
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.
Historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.