Journalist Bob Woodward says President Donald Trump "did not understand the American public" when he was downplaying the severity of the coronavirus.
"He said, 'Well, I don't want to create a panic,'" Woodward said during an appearance on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night.
"We know from history when the public is told the truth, they organize. We have a problem, we're going to step up. And Trump thought, 'Oh well, they'll panic when there's a crisis.' When the president particularly knows something it's time to tell the public in some form. He failed."
In Woodward's upcoming book on Trump, "Rage," Trump is quoted as saying the virus was highly contagious and "deadly stuff" at a time he was publicly dismissing it as no worse than the flu.
Woodward spoke with the president more than a dozen times for his book.
Trump last week defended his decision to downplay the severity of the coronavirus in order to keep Americans calm.
"I didn't lie," Trump said during a press conference when asked about keeping Americans in the dark. "What I said, was we have to be calm. We can't be panicked."
He also criticized Woodward for not reporting on his comments sooner.
"He didn't report it because he didn't think it was bad," Trump said. "Nobody thought it was bad."
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