Donald Trump’s conversations with Bob Woodward about coronavirus, Black Lives Matter and nuclear war
In taped conversations with a Washington Post journalist, President Trump said he wanted to downplay the severity of the coronavirus. And the recordings reveal the President’s view on how close the United States came to nuclear war with North Korea. Scott Pelley reports.
- 2020Sep 13
- CORRESPONDENTScott Pelley
Tonight, new reporting from the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward says that President Trump was bluntly warned in January about the threat of coronavirus but chose to downplay the danger in public. Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” is his latest work in a 50-year career investigating American presidents. His first investigation, reported with Carl Bernstein, led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. For “Rage,” Mr. Trump agreed to 18 recorded interviews. Many, which you’re about to hear, started with the words of the White House operator, “Mr. Woodward? The president.” Mr. Trump called, sometimes late at night, to talk about ‘Black Lives Matter,’ the threat of nuclear war, and about the dire warning he received during an intelligence briefing this past January.
Bob Woodward: On January 28th of this year, before the virus was on anyone’s radar, the national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, told the president, “This virus will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.”
Scott Pelley: What was the president’s reaction?
Bob Woodward: His head popped up and he asked questions.
President Trump’s questions, in the January 28 meeting, exposed a difference of opinion. Beth Sanner, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the virus might be no worse than SARS in 2003, when there were only eight known infections in the U.S.. But, Woodward says, Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, who had be