Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bob Woodward: "I was not going to hide" my opinion on Trump

Bob Woodward didn't want to join Senate Republicans in privately condemning President Trump but declining to do so publicly, he told Jonathan Swan in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: Woodward has covered 9 presidents, but Trump is the first that Woodward explicitly described as "the wrong man for the job."

  • "I did not want to join the ranks of the Senate Republicans who know that Trump is the wrong man for the job but won't say it publicly. ... I was not going to hide. And I think there are too many people hiding about Trump."

Woodward's book, "Rage," was based on 19 interviews with the president, and the journalist concluded that Trump failed at his self-described job.

  • "He failed to protect the people. And he knew the threat of this virus much earlier on January 28, which is the key moment when it was told to him. Two hundred thousand people, the countrymen he leads, have died. And he could have taken remedial action. He could have protected the country."

In the interview, Woodward told "Axios on HBO" that Trump could have given a very different State of the Union address.

  • "Near the end, he talks about the virus for 15 seconds and says, we're doing everything we can. He then spent, what, two minutes and 45 seconds on Rush Limbaugh."
  • "Now, suppose he'd taken that moment to say, 'a few days earlier, my national security advisers came and gave me evidence about a pandemic that's going to be like the 1912 Spanish flu pandemic that killed six hundred and seventy five thousand people in this country. Fifty million people in the world.'"
  • "Suppose he had said, 'I got this warning. I need to tell you. That's my job. I'm going to protect the people.'"

The bottom line: Woodward — who doesn't typically vote in presidential elections to maintain journalistic objectivity, he says — told "Axios on HBO" that he doesn't know whether he'll vote in November, despite declaring Trump unfit for the job.

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