President Donald Trump’s stunningly candid interviews with Washington Post editor Bob Woodward, which have raised a major scandal over Trump’s deliberate downplaying of COVID-19, stemmed from the President’s belief that he could get the journalist to give him good PR.
CNN reported on Wednesday night that Trump was dead set on granting interviews with Woodward, who was working on a book about Trump titled “Rage,” to boost his image, with the President reportedly relying on his experience as a salesman to present himself in a positive light.
White House aides “repeatedly” warned Trump against speaking to the dogged reporter, a source told CNN, but as usual, the President ignored their advice and acted on his own instincts instead.
Senior staffers were also reportedly worried about the level of personal access Trump had afforded Woodward, which included phone calls where the President’s advisers were not present.
One official told CNN that the direct calls between the two men “without us knowing were made all the time.”
Thus White House aides were blindsided on Wednesday when excerpts and audio clips of Woodward’s interviews with Trump were published, revealing that Trump was well aware back in February of how serious COVID-19 was even as he persistently told the country that it was less serious than the flu. In one especially damning excerpt, the President admitted to Woodward in mid-March that he “wanted to always play [the pandemic] down.”