‘The president of the U.S. possessed specific knowledge that could have saved lives’

U.S. President Donald President Trump speaks after it was announced Bahrain has joined the United Arab Emirates in striking an agreement to normalize relations with Israel during a brief appearance in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

Journalist Bob Woodward said Monday that he was shocked when he learned that President Donald Trump “possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives” in January.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Woodward said he found out about a briefing the president received from his national security advisers on Jan. 28 about the pandemic coming to the United States and, only a few days later, Trump didn’t share that information in his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 4, which 40 million people watched.

Woodward said Trump missed an opportunity that night to convey that warning, but the president said only that the U.S. was doing everything possible. Woodward said it’s like if President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people the truth after Pearl Harbor that a lot more could have been done.

“It is one of those shocks, for me, having written about nine presidents, that the president of the United States possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives and historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years,” Woodward said.

Woodward also released a new audio clip on “TODAY” from one of his 18 interviews with Trump for his book “Rage,” which is set to be released Tuesday. In the recording, Trump talks about having positive relationships with leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of many strongmen the president has praised.

“I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you’re not supposed to because everyone says, ‘What a horrible guy.’ But, you know, for me it works out good. It’s funny the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them. You’ll explain that to me someday, OK? But maybe it’s not a bad thing. The easy ones are the ones I maybe don’t like as much or don’t get along with as much,” Trump told Woodward.

Asked for his reaction to those comments Monday, Woodward said added that Dan Coats, when he served as Trump’s director of national intelligence, came to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin had something on Trump and suspected the worst.

“Dan Coats, who was the number one intelligence officer in the country, did not have proof. They went through all the intelligence, but he indeed harbored that suspicion,” Woodward said.

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