President Trump slammed longtime Washington Post editor Bob Woodward Thursday morning for holding onto the contents of their bombshell interview for months if he believed the public was in danger by not being informed.
“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so?” the commander-in-chief asked on Twitter.
“No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” he continued.
Woodward interviewed Trump on over a dozen occasions for a total of nine hours in an on-the-record capacity while working on the tome, entitled “Rage.”
During some of those interviews, which took place in February and March, the president told Woodward that he publicly downplayed the coronavirus pandemic.
“To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told the veteran journalist, “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
The president has faced considerable scrutiny for his admission, though White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended her boss’s actions, saying he “never downplayed the virus. The president expressed calm.”
The president publicly likened the virus to the flu, however, even as he acknowledged to Woodward how challenging the situation was.
“You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in an audio clip to Woodward recorded in February. “That’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. … It’s also more deadly that even your strenuous flus.”
“This is deadly stuff.”
But speaking to reporters at the end of March, the president was open about his strategy of maintaining calm for the sake of Americans’ wellbeing.
President TrumpDoug Mills/Pool via Getty Images
“I read an article today, which was very interesting. They say, ‘We wish President Trump would give more bad news. Give bad news.’ I’m not about bad news. I want to give people hope. I want to give people a feeling that we all have a chance,” Trump told a reporter who pushed back on his handling of the virus.
“I want to give people a feeling of hope. I could be very negative. I could say, ‘Wait a minute, those numbers are terrible. This is going to be horrible. This is a horrible thing,’” he continued.
The commander-in-chief then doubled down on his point, saying those in the media who wanted him to take a more negative approach were approaching the issue incorrectly.
“I want to be positive. I don’t want to be negative. I have to — I’m a positive person. Somebody said, ‘Oh, I wish he’d be more negative.’ They literally have that; it’s in one of the wonderful newspapers today. ‘I wish he’d be more negative.’
Bob WoodwardMichael Kovac/Getty Images
“You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country. We’re going through the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen. … So there’s nothing positive, there’s nothing great about it, but I want to give people in this country hope. I think it’s very important,” Trump said.
For his part, Woodward says he kept the information to himself while he verified it.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward said.
He then said he went on a mission to determine, “What did he know and when did he know it?”
With Post wires