Veteran journalist Bob Woodward sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes‘ Scott Pelley on Sunday night to talk about the revelations in his new book Rage, that Donald Trump knew of the gravity of coronavirus but failed to warn the American public.
Woodward told Pelley about warnings from Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, who told Trump that the pandemic was going to be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu: “It was a stunning moment in the Trump presidency, and, I think, in American history. Because he then went on to publicly dismiss the virus. And he knew that this was a pandemic coming.”
“I think he did not understand the American public,” Woodward added. “And he said, ‘well I don’t want to create a panic.’ We know from history when the public is told the truth, they organize. We have a problem, we’re going to step up. And Trump thought, ‘oh well, they’ll panic when there’s a crisis.’ The president, particularly knows something, it’s time to tell the public in some form. He failed.”
Added Woodward (not in clip): “This is the tragedy. The president of the United States has a duty to warn. The public will understand, but if they get the feeling that they’re not getting the truth, then you’re going down the path of deceit and cover-up.”
Woodward also spoke about why Trump agreed to be interviewed.
“He heard from people in the White House, people in his circle that [Woodward’s earlier book] Fear was true, and that I would not put words in his mouth if he talked to me.”
Woodward also read excerpts of correspondence between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un that he was able to obtain: ” Kim says to Trump, ‘Our meetings, our relationship, is out of a fantasy film.’ He says, ‘There is a magical force between us.’ ‘Even now, I cannot forget that moment of history, when I firmly held your Excellency’s hand as the whole world watched.'”
Woodward also talked about Defense Secretary James Mattis calling Trump’s troop withdrawals from Syria “felony stupid.”
Mattis said, “I quit… This is intolerable.”
Watch the interview in full HERE.