President Trump "failed to tell the public the truth that he knew" about the novel coronavirus in February, veteran journalist Bob Woodward told CNN's Anderson Cooper Tuesday night.
Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," Woodward said the President knew the seriousness of the virus in February. Woodward went on to say that Trump could have warned Americans about the virus during his State of the Union speech that month.
"He gave the famous State of the Union speech to the Congress, 40 million people watched. He spent 15 seconds on it, saying we are doing everything that we can," Woodward told Cooper. "This is the moment a leader would say I got a warning. Trouble is coming. There are things we can do. But then he goes on and says, I didn't want to tell the truth, because I would panic people. That's not what people in this country do when they are told the truth."
Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, telling the journalist on Feb. 7, "This is deadly stuff." In March, Trump admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
In a new clip aired on "Anderson Cooper 360" Tuesday, Woodward asked Trump on March 19, "Was there a moment in all of this, last two months, where you said to yourself — you know, you're waking up or whatever you're doing and you say, 'Ah, this is the leadership test of a lifetime?'"
"No," Trump replied.
Woodward asked, "No?"
"I think it might be, but I don't think that," Trump said. "All I want to do is get it solved. There are many people that said that to me. They said, you're now a wartime President."
CNN's Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.