Carl Bernstein — Bob Woodward's old reporting partner — said the tape of Trump admitting to downplaying COVID-19 is worse than Watergate, calling it 'homicidal negligence'

  • Veteran reporter Carl Bernstein, who reported on the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward, has said his former colleague's revelations about President Trump and COVID-19 are "graver than in Watergate."
  • Woodward recorded the president telling him in February that the coronavirus was "deadly," then telling him in March that he "always" downplayed its impact.
  • Trump reasoned that he did not want to spread panic, and the White House has said he has never lied to the American public. 
  • Bernstein on Wednesday accused the president of endangering the health of Americans in order to further his reelection interests, framing it as "a kind of homicidal negligence."
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Carl Bernstein, the veteran journalist who reported on the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward, has said that his former colleague's tapes of President Donald Trump admitting to downplaying COVID-19 have a "graver" impact than Watergate.

Woodward and Bernstein reported on a series of scandals in the early 1970s — known as the Watergate scandal — which eventually led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. Now, following recordings made by Woodward for his new book on Trump, "Rage," Bernstein has said that the implications are "even graver than in Watergate."

Woodward on Wednesday released a series of recordings of his on-the-record conversations with Trump, which include:

  • One on February 7, where Trump said he was aware that the coronavirus is deadlier than severe flus.
  • One on March 19, where Trump said: "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic."

You can listen to both recordings here.

In a Wednesday interview with CNN, Bernstein said the tapes were "even more devastating than Nixon's tapes" — referring to audio recordings of conversations between Nixon and other White House officials, in which they discussed covering up the break-in of the Democratic National Committee's complex

"We are listening to the President of the United States on tape deliberately undermining the national security of the United States, the health and wellbeing of the people of the United States," he added.

"And he's doing this knowingly, in real time. It is the smoking gun of his negligence."

Bernstein also suggested that Trump had sacrificed "thousands and thousands and thousands" of Americans for "his own narrow presidential reeelection efforts."

He called it "a kind of homicidal negligence," adding: "This is one of the great presidential felonies of all time, maybe the greatest."

More than 190,000 Americans have died with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Bernstein called on Republicans to hold the president accountable for the tapes, comparing it to when senior Republicans asked Nixon to resign in the wake of the Watergate revelations. 

"The Republican leadership, including Barry Goldwater … went to the White House and told Nixon he had to resign, and the facts here are even graver than in Watergate," he said. 

Trump has downplayed the impact of the coronavirus multiple times throughout the pandemic. For example, on March 7 — weeks after telling Woodward the virus was deadly — he said: "We closed it down; we stopped it."

Business Insider has contacted the White House for comment on Bernstein's remarks.

Trump defended his comments on Wednesday, telling Fox News' Sean Hannity: "I'm the leader of the country, I can't be jumping up and down and scaring people … I don't want to scare people. I want people not to panic, and that's exactly what I did."

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also told reporters on Wednesday that Trump had never lied to the American public about COVID-19, saying: "The president has always been clear-eyed with the American people."

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