‘This is a busy White House’: Trump told Dr. Fauci he didn’t have a lot of time to talk about COVID-19: Bob Woodward

President Trump reportedly told journalist Bob Woodward that he was too busy to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci one-on-one in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

A previously unheard recording of Trump released Monday shows Trump shrugging off the need for more in-depth meetings with the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, CNN reported Monday.

“This is a busy White House,” Trump told Woodward in March as the death toll started rising. “We’ve got a lot of things happening.”

“Honestly there’s not a lot of time for that, Bob,” the president added.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci


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President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci

President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci

Video: Martha MacCallum on Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: ‘The President seemed impenetrable’ (FOX News)

Martha MacCallum on Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: ‘The President seemed impenetrable’

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The new recording is from one of 18 interviews that Trump gave to Woodward for the iconic journalist’s book “Rage” about Trump’s White House.

Earlier recordings revealed that Trump admitted that he “like(s) playing down” the threat from the pandemic to the public even though he knew how dangerous it was.

In the new recording, Trump praises Fauci as “a sharp guy” but again seeks to tamp down the need for a full-court press to battle the virus, which was just starting to kill significant numbers of Americans.

Last week, the Republican president became one of 7.4 million Americans who contracted coronavirus and to date, he is currently receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Woodward has said he believes Trump’s mishandling of the virus shows that he is profoundly unfit to lead the country.

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Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders “would not have encouraged” Woodward interviews with Trump

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that she “would not have encouraged” the extensive interviews President Trump gave Bob Woodward for his book, “Rage,” which was based on several on-the-record conversations with the president and was published this week.

“I probably would not have encouraged that level of access to the president,” Sanders said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. Woodward’s book includes revelations that the president knew the coronavirus was more severe than he publicly expressed as early as February, and that he publicly downplayed the impact of the pandemic.

Sanders spoke with Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast, which airs on CBSN every Friday and Saturday night at 9 pm ET.

But she acknowledged that it could sometimes be difficult for White House staff to discourage the president from doing what he wants to do — such as speaking to Woodward — and said that “sometimes, you have to pick your battles.”

Sanders also noted that whatever the level of cooperation Mr. Trump gave Woodward — who has written books about several presidents — the White House was unlikely to be happy with the result.

“A Bob Woodward book about your presidency probably isn’t going to be one you like,” Sanders said.

Sanders also slammed other former members of the Trump administration who have criticized the president since leaving the White House, such as former national security adviser John Bolton.

“I think he is a classic case of somebody who sometimes forgot that he wasn’t the president,” Sanders said of Bolton. She added that she believed some former administration officials could become “drunk on power.”

“At the end of the day, only two people in that building were elected,” Sanders said, in reference to Mr. Trump and Vice President Pence. “I think sometimes people find that very frustrating.”

Sanders noted that she and many former employees have “maintained a great relationship” with the president.

She also discussed Mr. Trump’s campaign and said that she believed that it wasn’t possible to be a Republican and not support the president’s reelection. She praised his commitment to Republican ideals, pointing to the fact that he has filled the judiciary branch with conservative judges.

“That alone I think should give Republicans, real Republicans, a solid and good reason to support the president,” Sanders said.

It’s hard to be truly patriotic without supporting the president, she opined.

“I think if you really love what makes America special, then you wouldn’t vote for somebody who wants to take those things away,” Sanders said, referring to Republican priorities like protecting the Second Amendment.

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Woodward Calls Donald Trump ‘A Bulldozer,’ Widespread Denial In White House About COVID-19

Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward characterized President Donald Trump as a “bulldozer” in an interview Tuesday and claimed there was widespread denial among White House staffers about the severity of COVID-19.

“I think there was denial across the board,” Woodward told the Post about White House aides and their knowledge of COVID-19. Woodward described Trump as “a one-man band” who is “going to do what he wants to do on impulse or on information he has.”

“He’s a bulldozer to the staff and, quite frankly, to the country,” Woodward continued. “And he just says what he wants, and so there’s no control. And this is one of the problems of the Trump presidency, that he doesn’t build a team. He doesn’t plan.”

Woodward conducted 17 on-the-record interviews with Trump in order to write his newly released book “Rage.” During one interview with Woodward in February, Trump admitted to downplaying COVID-19. 

“I wanted to, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump told Woodward. The comments drew criticism from Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who alleged Trump of lying to the public about the virus.

In an interview with Fox & Friends on Tuesday, Trump said he read Woodward’s new book and called it “very boring.” 

“I actually got to read it last night. I read it very quickly and it was very boring,” Trump told the news outlet. “But there was not much in that book.”

It’s unclear why Trump chose to do the interviews with Woodward. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said Trump wanted Woodward to like him. 

“Trump loves brands, and Woodward has been the gold standard for 50 years of investigative journalism around the presidency, so it’s the same reason why he likes the Gray Lady, he likes The New York Times. It’s the paper of record traditionally in his hometown, so even though both excoriate him, he’s attracted to them the way a low-IQ small moth would be to a flame,” Scaramucci told Politico last week. “Trump is always convinced that if he talks to the person, he is going to elucidate and enlighten that person and get them to like him.”

Woodward began his career at the Washington Post in 1971 and garnered fame for his reporting on the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein in 1972, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Woodward has written 19 books on U.S. politics and the presidency. He previously wrote “Fear,” an account of the first two years of the Trump administration and “Obama’s Wars,” about the 44th president’s handling of foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Woodward describes Trump as a ‘bulldozer’ who ignores advice from White House staff

Washington Post editor Bob Woodward said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats, advocates seethe over Florida voting rights ruling Russian jets identified in Trump campaign ad calling for support for the troops Democratic Senate candidate ‘hesitant’ to get COVID-19 vaccine if approved this year MORE is a “bulldozer” who ignores guidance from White House aides.

I think there was denial across the board,” Woodward told the Post on Tuesday.

Trump gave 18 on-the-record interviews with Woodward for the journalist’s new book, titled “Rage,” his second on Trump’s presidency. Recordings and excerpts of Woodward’s interviews with Trump were released last week.

Among dozens of revelations in Woodward’s reporting, Trump privately acknowledged to the journalist in early February that COVID-19 was “deadly,” even as he publicly dismissed concerns about the novel coronavirus around the same time.

“He’s a bulldozer to the staff and, quite frankly, to the country,” Woodward told the Post, where he works as an associate editor. “And he just says what he wants, and so there’s no control. And this is one of the problems of the Trump presidency, that he doesn’t build a team. He doesn’t plan.”

The president has often touted his decision to cut off travel to China early in the pandemic, though Woodward said that decision was suggested by other administration officials, not Trump.

“My reporting shows that it was the doctors and the national security team that told the president that he needed to do this, and he okayed it,” Woodward said. “And if this was such a big deal, he would have gone out and announced it. Instead, he sent the secretary of health and human services, [Alex] Azar, to announce it.”

Trump claimed Tuesday that he read Woodward’s book “very quickly” and found it to be “boring.”

When asked if the claims in the book were accurate, Trump said they were “fine” and doubled down on his previous defense of his decision to downplay the virus, claiming he did not want to incite panic.

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Woodward says there was ‘denial across the board’ in White House about severity of coronavirus

“I think there was denial across the board,” Woodward told The Post’s Philip Rucker when asked whether White House staffers who also knew about the lethality of the virus denied its severity. He added that Trump is “a one-man band” who is “going to do what he wants to do on impulse or on information he has.”

“He’s a bulldozer to the staff and, quite frankly, to the country,” Woodward said. “And he just says what he wants, and so there’s no control. And this is one of the problems of the Trump presidency, that he doesn’t build a team. He doesn’t plan.”

Trump has criticized the book, calling it “just another political hit job” and told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning: “I read it very quickly. And it was very boring.”

But he has also acknowledged that he knowingly minimized the danger posed to Americans by the virus, although he insists that his actions did not amount to lying.

Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, defended the administration’s response to the coronavirus in an interview Tuesday morning on NBC News’s “Today” show.

“The president was very forthcoming with the American people about what he knew and when he knew it,” Kushner said.

One of the steps that Trump has frequently touted amid the pandemic is his decision earlier this year to impose restrictions on travel from China to the United States. But Woodward said Tuesday that the action was actually suggested by others in the administration and did not originate with Trump.

“My reporting shows that it was the doctors and the national security team that told the president that he needed to do this, and he okayed it,” Woodward said. “And if this was such a big deal, he would have gone out and announced it. Instead, he sent the secretary of health and human services, [Alex] Azar, to announce it.”

In the Washington Post Live interview, Woodward was also asked about Kushner’s claim to NBC News earlier Tuesday that Woodward “mischaracterized” who he was referring to when he said, “The most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots.”

In his book, Woodward interprets the statement as a reference to former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

Kushner did not deny Tuesday that he was referring to the three officials, but he also did not clarify his remarks. “No, that wasn’t clear. And again, he’s got tapes of everything. I have tapes of everything. So, that was never implied in that regard,” he told NBC News’s Savannah Guthrie.

Woodward responded that it was clear that Kushner was talking about individuals within the administration, and that Trump dismissed both Mattis and Tillerson during interviews.

He added: “I’m quite interested in when Jared says he has tapes. I have tapes. I taped him with his permission. I suspect that he was taping me. He did not extend the courtesy to me that

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White House adviser says Trump was ‘straightforward’ on coronavirus when pressed on Woodward interview

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro dismissed concerns on Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump slams Nevada governor at rally, takes aim at mail-in voting Former NFL coach Mike Holmgren slams Trump pandemic response, throws support to Biden Watch Live: Trump rallies supporters in Nevada MORE was purposely downplaying the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year in light of recently released recordings that show Trump privately acknowledged the threat to journalist Bob Woodward in February. 

CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperOvernight Defense: Trump announces new US ambassador to Afghanistan | Pentagon officially withdraws plan to end ‘Stars and Stripes’ | Biden says Trump doesn’t understand national security, intel officials ‘don’t trust’ him Biden vows to be ‘totally transparent’ on his health if elected Biden says Trump doesn’t understand national security, intel officials ‘don’t trust’ him MORE asked Navarro during a heated interview on “State of the Union” about Trump’s comments in a Feb. 7 interview with Woodward for a forthcoming book that contradicted what the president said publicly about the coronavirus a couple days later. 

Recordings released last week show Trump privately told Woodward the coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu, but during a press conference a couple of days after the president said the opposite when asked about the coronavirus. 

Asked by Tapper on Sunday why the president was misleading the public, Navarro responded by noting Trump’s so-called travel ban on China imposed at the end of January and plans the White house created in early February to prepare for the virus. 

“You’re not answering my question, you’re talking about what you were doing privately,” Tapper told Navarro. 

Tapper pressed Navarro on the contradiction between Trump’s public comments and those to Woodward, noting that even some Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.), called Trump out after the recording was released. 

“Why wasn’t the president straightforward with the American people?” Tapper asked. 

“He was straightforward,” Navarro responded, adding that Tapper was “cherry picking.”

Tapper said he was not cherry picking, and said he wanted Navarro to answer the question. 

Navarro continued defending Trump’s comments, claiming that “CNN is not honest with the American people.”

Trump participated in multiple interviews with Woodward for his forthcoming book titled, “Rage,” which is the journalist’s second on the Trump presidency. 

Last week, Trump said “perhaps” he misled the public to “reduce panic” about the coronavirus, when asked about the recordings. 

“If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so,” Trump told reporters last Wednesday when asked if he downplayed the virus or misled the public to avoid panic.

“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country,” Trump continued. “I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.

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White House, Allies Try to Defend Trump’s Woodward Debacle

If only Trump hadn’t listened to him, everything would be fine.
Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s damning revelations from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book — most notable, that President Trump deliberately misled the American public about COVID-19’s severity — the Trump administration and its allies struggled to mount a defense. At a White House press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany maintained that the president has never downplayed the virus (never mind that he admitted to doing so on tape).

Others in right-wing media argued that even though Trump had downplayed the virus, this was consistent with his public-facing posture that Americans shouldn’t panic — ignoring the fact that the president’s supposed reasoning for not panicking was that he thought the virus’s danger was overrated (when, we now know, he was making the opposite case in private).

Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, found a scapegoat. On his show Wednesday night, the Fox News host pinned the blame for the entire Woodward episode squarely on South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham.

Posing the question of why Trump would sit down for interviews that would very likely cast him in an unfavorable light, Carlson said he had “the answer to that mystery” from “a source who knows.” Carlson went on to say that Graham had convinced Trump to talk to Woodward and that his sabotage is of a piece with his opposition to Trump’s policies on immigration, foreign entanglements, and “law and order at home.”

But Carlson’s attempt to cast Graham as a scheming Svengali strains credulity, considering the president’s well-documented tendency to cast aside any advice he doesn’t like. (It also ignores the fact that Trump had cooperated on a previous Woodward book, as well as his knack for self-immolating in front of conservative-leaning journalists.) And Carlson’s portrayal of Graham as insufficiently loyal to the president is just slightly at odds with the senator’s slavish devotion to the man he sees as his political meal ticket.

The president, as usual, mounted his own defense. On Thurday morning, in the midst of a tweet binge during which he assured Americans that Kim Jong-un is in good health, he twisted an argument proffered by some journalists — that Woodward had a responsibility to alert the public to Trump’s deception — by offering that same argument as proof that Trump didn’t really do anything wrong.

Cleanup complete — now on to the next scandal.

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