Famed journalist Carl Bernstein says the details of how President Donald Trump handled the coronavirus outbreak laid out in Washingon Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward’s new book are “stunning” and “one of the great presidential felonies of all time.”
Bernstein, known for his work with Woodward reporting on the Watergate scandal for the Post, reacted to revelations in his former colleague’s new book about the Trump administration on Wednesday.
“It’s stunning,” Bernstein said during an appearance on CNN. “I think we all need to take a deep breath and understand exactly what it is we have learned. We are listening to the president of the United States, on tape deliberately undermining the security, the national security of the United States, the health and well being of the people of the United States, and he’s doing this knowingly, in real-time.”
He continued to call the book, and the audio recordings of Trump’s interviews a “smoking gun of his negligence.”
“More than anything, instead of leveling with the country, he covers up. We listen to him cover up this grave national emergency. This is one of the great presidential felonies of all time, maybe the greatest presidential felony. And we have the smoking gun tape of the president committing the felony.”
Watch the video below:
Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein reacts to Bob Woodward's conversation with President Trump.— CNN (@CNN) September 9, 2020
"We are listening to the President of the United States, on tape, deliberately undermining the… national security of the United States… It is the smoking gun of his negligence." pic.twitter.com/kvR29pFuZz
Bernstein suggested Trump downplayed the threat of the virus to bolster his re-election bid, a move he called a “kind of homicidal negligence.”
“On tape, time after time after time, and through the narrative of Bob Woodward’s book, we see the president put his narrow own, selfish interest ahead of the health of the people of this country — their safety,” said.
He continued, “It is a dereliction of duty, recorded as no other presidential dereliction of duty has been, even more so than the Nixon tapes, in this instance. So it’s going to be very hard to see how this cannot be addressed by Republicans in particular and their candidate for President of the United States.”
“The last time this happened during the end of Nixon’s presidency, the Republican leadership, including Barry Goldwater — the 1964 nominee of his party for president — went to the White House and told Nixon he had to resign. And the facts here are even graver than in Watergate.”
Bernstein’s comments come as excerpts from Woodward’s new book titled “Rage” which show that Trump was aware of the risk of COVID-19 as early as January were released.
“And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” Trump told Woodward in a February interview.
At the same time, Trump said he wanted to downplay the threat to prevent panic.
When asked if the president intentionally misled the public about the virus, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “The president has never lied to the American public on COVID.”
“The president was expressing calm, and his actions reflect that,” she added.
“It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” he added.