Bob Woodward: Historians will write about Trump's 'lost month of February' for decades

Bob Woodward
(Image credit: NBC News)

Historians will spend years looking back on President Trump's "lost month" at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, journalist Bob Woodward says.

Woodward reports in his new book Rage that President Trump told him he deliberately downplayed the threat of COVID-19 even though he was aware it was deadly, and speaking to Today on Monday, Woodward expressed his shock that Trump learned details about how "this is a coming pandemic to the United States" in January but did not tell Americans "the truth" during the State of the Union days later.

"Forty million people watched it," Woodward said of Trump's State of the Union address. "He had an opportunity ... He said, 'Well, we're doing everything possible.' At that moment, if, like Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor, [Trump] had told the American people the truth, a lot more could have been done."

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Woodward added, "Historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years."

In Rage, Woodward quotes Trump as describing COVID-19 as "deadly stuff" in February, but the president admits he wanted to "play it down." The quotes from Trump have generated a firestorm, with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying they demonstrate Trump's "life and death betrayal of the American people." Trump has argued that he simply did not want to create a panic and that he wanted to "show strength as a leader."

But Woodward told Today that after covering nine American presidents, the fact that Trump "possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives" is "one of those shocks for me." Brendan Morrow

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.