Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein said revelations from his former colleague Bob Woodward show President Trump committed an unprecedented felony among presidents.
In reaction to newly released tapes where the president told Woodward he wanted to "always" play down the coronavirus pandemic to prevent panic, Bernstein said the facts in this case, which are "even graver than in Watergate," reveal Trump's "homicidal negligence" to prioritize political interests over a public health emergency.
"Let's talk about what this really is. This is a kind of homicidal negligence. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives because the president put his own reelection interests, as we hear in the tapes and see throughout Bob's book, that he is putting his own narrow presidential reelection efforts in front of the safety, health, and well-being of the people of the United States," Bernstein said. "We've never had a president who's done anything like this before."
Bernstein continued saying Republican leadership, in response to the Watergate scandal, once asked President Richard Nixon to resign and that Woodward's tapes put Republican members of Congress in a similar position with Trump.
"It's going to be very hard to see how this cannot be addressed by Republicans, in particular, and their candidate for president of the United States," Bernstein said.
Trump's comments are part of Woodward's book Rage, which is set for release on Tuesday. At the time Trump described the severity of the coronavirus with Woodward, he made categorically different public statements on the matter, including that COVID-19 was similar to the seasonal flu, according to Woodward.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, "The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. The president was expressing calm, and his actions reflect."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also rejected the idea Trump misleadingly minimized the threat the coronavirus posed to the U.S. when asked about the matter on Fox News.
"I don’t recall anything different than in our discussions that we had with the president that he said things quite similar publicly. So, I didn’t read the book. I didn’t go over any of the text since it just came out," Fauci began. "But you know, in my discussions and the discussions of other task force members with the president, we’re talking about the reality of what was going on, and then, when we would get up in front of the press conferences, which were very, very common after our discussions with the president, he really didn’t say anything different than we discussed when we were with him."
There are over 6.3 million total reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 190,000 deaths, according to the latest reading from the Johns Hopkins University tracker.