Sep 14, 2020 - Health

Bob Woodward says it wasn't Trump's idea to restrict travel from China

President Trump's decision to restrict travel from China in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in January was not his idea, journalist Bob Woodward told NBC's "Today."

Why it matters: Trump has frequently cited the restrictions as his go-to defense of the administration's coronavirus response, claiming that it saved "potentially millions of lives." But the assertion that the policy was singularly his idea — and that "almost everybody," including public health experts, was opposed to it — is "very different" from what actually happened, Woodward said.

  • Woodward reports in his forthcoming book "Rage," that the policy was recommended to Trump at a January meeting by some of the top health experts in the administration, including Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
  • Woodward also notes that there were some holes in the so-called travel "ban," and that thousands of people still traveled from China to the U.S. after the restrictions went into effect.

The big picture: "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," Woodward said, recalling the warning Trump's advisers gave him in January. "Historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years."

What to watch: Woodward had 18 conversations with Trump for the book, which is set to be released Tuesday.

Go deeper: Trump told Woodward "nothing more could have been done" on coronavirus

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