Prior to reports on journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book that revealed President Trump’s intentional public downplaying of COVID-19 earlier this year, both Woodward and Trump hopped on the phone one last time ahead of the release of the legendary journalist’s book.
According to CNN on Monday, Trump called Woodward on August 14, as the country hit more than 168,000 fatalities from COVID-19, to ask about how he would be portrayed in his new book “Rage,” set for release Tuesday.
Speaking for the 19th time, following the 18 interviews that Woodward conducted with the President from December to July for his book, Trump attempted to pick the legendary journalist’s brain on the contents of his book.
Citing excerpts of the 10-minute conversation, CNN reported that Trump appeared more concerned about Woodward’s portrayal of the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic than his response to the public health crisis.
According to CNN, as Trump insisted that “nothing more could have been done” because he “acted early” in his response to COVID-19, the President asked Woodward whether he thinks “the virus totally supersedes the economy.”
Woodward replied, “Oh sure, but they’re related” to which Trump responded: “a little bit, yeah.”
Woodward pressed Trump further, prompting the President to claim that he meant “more than a little bit” before boasting about how the country is “close to a new stock market record.”
In another part of the conversation, Woodward warned Trump there are parts of his “tough book” that the President won’t like because it’s “close to the bone.”
The President once again touted that “the market’s coming back very strong” before asking Woodward whether he covered that in his book.
According to CNN, Trump repeatedly asked Woodward whether he was going to write a “good book” during the 18 conversations they had from December to July. The President’s approval seeking from Woodward continued during their final conversation, when Woodward mentioned that the Trump administration’s agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates happened after his book had gone to press.
Woodward mentioned that the agreement earned Trump rare praise from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman — who has repeatedly been critical of Trump — the President replied “that’s nice” and that Friedman has “come along way.”
“The next one I need is you,” Trump told Woodward. “But it looks like I don’t have it on this book, but we’ll get you sometime later, I guess.”
CNN’s report on the final conversation between Trump and Woodward comes as Trump blames Woodward for not taking the initiative to alert authorities after Trump stated his private concerns on COVID-19 to the journalist.
During an interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday night, Woodward said that he thinks Trump “did not understand the American public” by rationalizing that he didn’t “want to create a panic.”
Woodward argued that the President “failed” in responding to the COVID-19 crisis because in a time of crisis, the President should know that “it’s time to tell the public in some form.”