On August 14, the coronavirus pandemic was on fire in the US. More than 168,000 Americans had died, with more than 1,300 deaths that day alone. But when President Donald Trump called legendary journalist Bob Woodward, it was to find out one thing: He had recently learned that Woodward’s new book "Rage" was done and would be coming out in September, and Trump wanted to find out how he’d be portrayed.
It was their 19th conversation, following 18 interviews that formed a key component of Woodward’s book. Trump had privately told Woodward in February he knew critical details about how deadly the virus was, and in March admitted he was playing it down.
On August 14, Trump peppered the veteran two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with questions about the book and what exactly was in it.
CNN has obtained excerpts of the 10-minute conversation, which show Trump was more focused on the economy than the public health crisis. As the two debated Trump’s response to the pandemic, Trump finally asked: "So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?"
"Oh sure. But they’re related, as you know," Woodward responded.
"A little bit, yeah," Trump replied.
"Oh, a little bit?" Woodward asked.
"I mean, more than a little bit. But the economy is doing — look, we’re close to a new stock market record," Trump said.
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