President Donald Trump "possessed specific knowledge" that could have saved Americans' lives but did not share it before the pandemic exploded in March, even though he had the opportunity to warn Americans about the dangers of it during the State of the Union address in February, journalist Bob Woodward said Monday.
He also told NBC "Today" anchor Savannah Guthrie that while researching for his book "Rage," he learned that the idea to restrict travel from China did not come from Trump himself, but from his advisers.
"I learned in May about the Jan. 28 meeting and the specificity, the national security adviser and his deputy were giving details to the president about why this is a coming pandemic to the United States," said Woodward. "A few days later, he gave his State of the Union address to Congress; 40 million people watched it. He had an opportunity."
Trump mentioned coronavirus once during the Feb. 4 address, when he said the United States was coordinating with the Chinese government to work closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. He also said that the administration would take "all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat."
"At that moment, if, like Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor, he had told the American people the truth, a lot more could have been done," said Woodward. "This 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."
Woodward also said his book also disputes Trump's claims that "almost everybody," including public health experts, was opposed to the travel ban from China. The policy, he said, was recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Woodward emphasized that there was no travel ban, but instead, Trump "restricted it."
"As we now know, there were some problems and lots of people from China instead of coming to the United States went to Europe, and then came into John F. Kennedy airport in New York," said Woodward. "That's why there was such a firestorm of a virus in New York City at that time."
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