On Wednesday, a portion of President Donald Trump’s recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward, in which Trump admitted to downplaying the threat of coronavirus, was released ahead of the publication of Woodward's new book "Rage." Now some are questioning why the president spoke with Woodward and allowed the conversation to be taped in the first place.
"I was surprised you spoke to him," Fox News host Sean Hannity said in a Wednesday phone interview with Trump.
"I didn't participate in his last one, and he does hit jobs with everybody. He even did it on Obama, constant hit jobs. So I figured, you know, let's just give it a little shot. I'll speak to him. It wasn't a big deal. Sounds like it's not going to be good," Trump told Hannity.
In the conversation, which took place in March, Trump told Woodward, "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down," referring to how he spoke about the risk of COVID-19 publicly.
Trump also admitted to knowing that the threat of the virus was far more serious than what was initially believed.
"Every president does a Bob Woodward book and gives him plenty of interviews and then later comes to regret it, and this is probably one of those instances," former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said on Fox News.
Woodward's access to the president was unprecedented. They spoke 18 times from last December to just a few weeks ago. In July, Trump even gave Woodward his personal cell phone number.
"Why in the world would he do that?" said Trump ally Tucker Carlson.
Carlson pointed the finger at Senator Lindsey Graham.
"It was Lindsey Graham who helped convince Donald Trump to talk to Bob Woodward," Carlson said. "Lindsey Graham brokered that meeting. Lindsey Graham even sat in on the first interview between Bob Woodward and the president."
On Thursday, the president called the new book "boring" and a "political hit job by rapidly fading Bob Woodward."
In another recording released Thursday, the president told Woodward that he doesn't recall being warned the pandemic would be catastrophic.
Woodward himself is under fire for not speaking out earlier. The famed reporter, who will appear on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, said he wanted to verify what the president said before speaking out.
"Rage" is set to be released next Tuesday.