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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

Go deeper

Trump’s playbook for planting suspicion

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's effort to paint Joe Biden as corrupt — debunked by fact-checkers — fits a pattern of Trump's attacks on enemies: Raise deeply serious questions, regardless of what the facts say; hammer on those questions; never, ever seek finality.

Why it matters: Trump tries to plant seeds of suspicion and doubt, even if he doesn't actually prove a case. He incubates the attacks in perpetuity, rather than seeking an actual resolution. But in Biden's case, they've backfired in a way Trump couldn't have imagined.

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

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