Washington (CNN)Excerpts of journalist Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage” reveal President Donald Trump may have known more about the threat of the coronavirus than he let on publicly.
The startling revelations in “Rage,” which CNN obtained ahead of its September 15 release, were made during 18 wide-ranging interviews Trump gave Woodward from December 5, 2019 to July 21, 2020. The interviews were recorded by Woodward with Trump’s permission, and CNN has obtained copies of some of the audio tapes. In response to the book’s assertions, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has insisted the President never downplayed the virus or lied to the American public about Covid-19. Facts First: CNN has previously fact-checked several of the President’s falsehoods related to the coronavirus. Additionally, on at least three occasions, what the President told Woodward about the pandemic contrasts with the message he was conveying to the general public.February 7: On comparing Covid-19 to the flu Read MoreWoodward writes that on February 7, Trump acknowledged to him that the coronavirus is more deadly than the flu. However, a few weeks later, Trump was singing a different tune, falsely claiming in a February 26 press briefing that mortality rates are higher for the flu than coronavirus. March 19: On who can get infected The following month, a similar situation occurred. According to tapes of the interviews obtained by CNN, on March 19 Trump told Woodward he’d recently learned “it’s not just old people” who are susceptible to the virus. Despite this alleged realization, in public Trump repeatedly asserted that it was predominantly the elderly who had to worry.On May 5, he claimed “children aren’t affected” by the virus. In his public remarks and interviews, Trump has continued to contradict his initial comments to Woodward, as recently as August 5 when he said children were “almost immune” to the virus. April 5: On his tone regarding the virusIt’s not just what Trump says but his tone that differs, according to Woodward. When the President and Woodward spoke by phone on Palm Sunday, April 5, Trump referred to the coronavirus as “horrible” and “unbelievable” in a tone that “sounded resigned, almost chastened,” Woodward writes.That stands in stark contrast to comments Trump had made just days before at an April 3 coronavirus press briefing, where he confidently and definitively claimed the virus was “going away” just like he’d promised months before.By the end of the month, New York state had more cases than any country outside of the US, and the US death toll from the coronavirus had exceeded the number of US military personnel who died in the Korean War.