Donald Trump lashed out at ABC News’ chief White House correspondent Jon Karl at a press conference, after Karl asked him about the revelations in Bob Woodward’s upcoming book.
“Why did you lie to the American people, and why should we trust what you have to say now?” Karl asked.
The question was in response to Trump’s admission to Woodward, recorded in a March 19 interview, that he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus so as to not cause panic. On Feb. 7, Trump told Woodward that the virus was deadly and dangerous, and could be spread through the air, but during the next month the president minimized its threat in public statements.
“That’s a terrible question,” Trump responded to Karl. “And the phraseology. I didn’t lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can’t be panicked.”
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Trump told Karl that the way he phrased the question was a “disgrace.” “It’s a disgrace to ABC television network. It’s a disgrace to your employer.”
Trump also addressed why he talked to Woodward in the first place. The investigative reporter had already authored a critical book about the Trump presidency, Fear, but Trump did 18 interviews with him for his new book Rage, set to be published on Tuesday.
He said that Woodward was “somebody that I respect just for hearing the name for many, many years, not knowing too much about his work, not caring about his work. But I thought it would be interesting to talk to him for a period of calls.”
“Certainly if he thought that was a bad statement he would have reported it because he thinks that you don’t want to have anyone suffer medically because of some fact,” Trump said. “And he didn’t report it because he didn’t think it was bad.”
Woodward has come under some criticism for withholding his interviews with Trump for his book. But he defended that decision, telling The Washington Post and the Associated Press on Wednesday that he was unsure if the information that Trump told him in February was correct. He said that it was not until months later that he could verify the information was reliable.
At the press conference, Trump continued to try to shift the focus to Woodward, telling The Washington Post‘s Phil Rucker that “if Bob Woodward thought that what I said was bad, he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know.”
“Bob Woodward is not the president,” Rucker said.
“The only ones that think it was bad were the fake news media, because they take it and try to put it a certain way,” Trump said.
Trump also said that he watched a great deal of TV over the past 24 hours, including the Fox Business and Fox News lineup. “I watched Liz McDonald, she’s fantastic. I watched Fox Business, I watched Lou Dobbs last night, Sean Hannity last night, Tucker last night, Laura. I watched to ‘Fox and Friends’ in the morning,” he said.
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