Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump to Woodward: The virus is "so easily transmissible"

Bob Woodward shared an April clip with late-night show host Stephen Colbert Monday where President Trump spoke of the dangers of the coronavirus, noting he "bailed out" of a White House room after someone sneezed.

Why it matters: Trump's comments to the veteran journalist regarding the coronavirus pandemic deeply contrast with what he has said publicly. The president argued for weeks that the virus would "disappear" and slow-walked economic lockdowns.

  • Trump has tweeted that Woodward withheld recordings of Trump saying his strategy was to intentionally downplay the threat of the coronavirus in February and March because "he knew they were good and proper answers."

Of note: Woodward told Colbert Trump's response makes him wonder if the president would bail on a rally if someone in the front sneezed.

  • Trump has said he's not worried about catching the virus at rally because he is "on stage and it's very far away ... and so I'm not at all concerned," per The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

What Trump told Woodward: "Bob, it's so easily transmissible, you wouldn't believe it ... I mean you could, you could be in the room ... I was in the White House a couple of days ago, meeting with 10 people in the Oval Office and a guy sneezed — innocently. Not a horrible ... you know, just a sneeze. The entire room bailed out, OK? Including me, by the way."

The other side: Trump told Fox News in an interview broadcast last Wednesday that he downplayed the virus' threat because he wanted to "show a calmness."

  • The president also accused Woodward of doing "hit jobs with everybody" on his books. Addressing Woodward's book, "Rage," about his presidency, Trump said: "I don't know if the book is good or bad — I have no idea. [I] probably, almost definitely, won't read it because I don't have time to read it."

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

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