Journalist Bob Woodward told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that his interviews with Donald Trump left him in doubt about whether the president can distinguish between what’s real and what is just in his own head.
Damning excerpts from Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” based on 18 taped interviews with Trump, have sparked an outcry over the past week after recordings revealed the president was aware of the danger of the coronavirus pandemic in early February. He admitted on tape in March that he deliberately downplayed its threat, saying he didn’t want to create a panic.
“I don’t know, to be honest, whether he’s got it straight in his head what is real and what is unreal,” the journalist said on “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday night. “That is why at the end of the book, I say in totality my judgment is this is the wrong man for the job.”
The veteran reporter said he could see no other conclusion after seeking the “whole picture” through discussions with Trump himself as well as people in the White House, Pentagon, CIA and State Department.
“How can you have the experience of living this White House the way I have for the last four plus years … and not reach that conclusion,” he said.
Woodward has written books about the past four administrations. His reporting with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.
“It’s terrifying to hear you say it given the fact that you’ve interviewed so many presidents,” Cooper said. ”Is there any other president you’ve ever interviewed who you would say the same thing of?”
Woodward said there wasn’t.
Earlier in the interview, Cooper played an excerpt from moments earlier on ABC, when Trump was asked during a Q&A why he chose to downplay the threat of coronavirus. Trump denied he ever did and claimed he actually “up-played” it, despite having admitted to downplaying it on tape ― a recording of which Cooper then played.
“We are living in an Orwellian world,” Woodward said. “This is not just about some political problem … It’s about the lives of people in this country and he was told. He knew.”