The hits keep coming from Rage author Bob Woodward, who premiered a new exclusive audio recording of President Donald Trump admitting behind closed doors how dangerous he knew the coronavirus to be long before he started taking it remotely seriously in public.
“Bob, it’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump can be heard saying on the tape, which Woodward recorded on April 13th, 2020, and shared with Stephen Colbert for Monday night’s episode of The Late Show. The president goes on to tell what he apparently thought was a hilarious story about being in the Oval Office with a group of advisers when one of them let out a sneeze.
“A guy sneezed, innocently,” Trump says. “Not a horrible—just a sneeze. The entire room bailed out, OK? Including me, by the way.”
“He’s making light there at the end, but at the heart of that is something extraordinarily shocking,” Colbert said after listening to the clip.
“Yes,” Woodward replied, reminding viewers that Trump was still “downplaying the virus” at this point, as he admitted to the journalist a few weeks earlier. Referring to the president’s most indoor rally in Nevada on Sunday night, he added, “God knows how many people there, all packed together, I wonder if someone sneezed the front row if Trump would bail out again and get out of the way.”
“Anyway, this is too serious a matter, as you know,” Woodward continued. With more than 190,000 Americans dead from the virus, he said, “my reporting shows that he knew back in January” how dangerous it really was.
On the same day Woodward made the tape in question, Trump was threatening to “override” measures taken by governors to protect their residents from the virus.
“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that is the way it’s gonna be,” Trump told reporters. “It’s total. It’s total. And the governors know that.” Four days later, he was tweeting demands to “LIBERATE” various Democratic-led states that had seen armed protests against the coronavirus lockdowns.
“I once asked him, ‘What’s the job of the president?’” Woodward told Colbert of Trump. “And he said the job is to protect the people. I agree. I think most people in this country would. And he failed to protect the people. He failed to find a way to tell the truth.”