Star journalist Bob Woodward harms Donald Trump with a new book. Unlike other research authors, he has the president on tape – the eighteen conversations provide a lot of explosives.
Every few days in the weeks leading up to the US presidential election, a revealing book about Donald Trump is released. Few offer really surprising and reliable information. Many of the claims are easily denied by Trump and his allies.
It’s different with the work of legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward. The journalist, who helped clear the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, conducted and recorded 18 interviews with the president. He has Trump on tape, including how he gives estimates of the corona crisis over the phone, which are in stark contrast to how he initially downplayed the virus in public for weeks on end.
Photo series with 16 photos
Woodward’s talks are correspondingly causing a stir in Washington – not only among the usual Trump opponents, but also in the White House. Government headquarters staff were taken aback by the fact that the boss was on the phone with the reporter late at night for several months. Trump was probably hoping for a positive book, wishing to flatter the reporter legend with exclusive access to the White House – but the plan didn’t work according to the preliminary revelations.
“Dangerous”, “Unsuitable” like “Alice in Wonderland”
The work entitled “Rage” will be released in the US on September 15th. As in other books, there are devastating comments about Trump’s character: his Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis calls him “dangerous” and “unsuitable”. Former intelligence director Dan Coats thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin should have Trump in his pocket. Self the quiet but powerful son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke extensively with Woodward and recommended the book “Alice in Wonderland” to understand the Trump cosmos.
Bob Woodward (archive photo 2011): The president tried to flatter him, apparently in vain. (Source: Alex Gallardo / Reuters)
But most stressful is what Trump Woodward himself revealed about the coronavirus. The episodes make it clear that the US president could have saved many lives if he had publicly warned about the virus. The US crossed the threshold of 190,000 Covid deaths on Wednesday.
Trump told the reporter at a very early stage, on February 7, 2020, that the virus was just breathing through the air. “It’s more deadly than a bad flu (…) It’s deadly stuff.” So Trump seemed to know early on how dangerous the virus is. But for weeks he publicly equated it with a conventional flu or even claimed, like here in March, that the virus was harmless.
So last year, 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is stopped, life and the economy continue. To date, there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about it!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
In late February, he said the number of cases would soon drop to zero – there are now more than six million cases of Covid in America.
An early warning
Woodward reported that national security adviser Robert O’Brien had already warned Trump urgently about the virus on Jan. 28: “This will be the biggest threat to national security you will face during your presidency.”
Speaking to Woodward on March 19, Trump said of Corona, “I always wanted to downplay it. I like to downplay it because I don’t want to panic.” These quotes are not the first, but perhaps the most impressive evidence to date of how Trump, against his better judgment, has publicly downplayed the coronavirus.
The statements are politically dangerous because a majority of the population is dissatisfied with the management in the corona crisis anyway – and his opponent Joe Biden is putting the corona issue at the center of his election campaign. On Wednesday, the Democrat said Trump’s actions have “claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.”
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The White House, which was frantically seeking an answer to the revelations on Wednesday, found it in the language the president especially wanted to reassure the nation. Trump himself did not deny in a brief appearance in the White House that he had downplayed the virus. He said he didn’t want “people to be afraid”.
The clips of the audio recordings ran up and down on American television channels on Wednesday, including the Trump-friendly channel “Fox News.” The president has been on the defensive for days anyway. According to an article in Atlantic magazine, Trump has repeatedly ridiculed wounded and fallen US soldiers as “losers” and “idiots.” That too is dangerous because a lack of respect for the military is not to the liking of Trump’s voters. But the charges were made anonymous. Woodward’s records are of a different quality.
The White House has no groundless hope that the vast majority of voters have long since formed their opinion of Trump – regardless of what he reveals to an investigative reporter.