Carl Bernstein: Woodward's Trump tapes 'smoking gun' of 'homicidal negligence'

Carl BernsteinCarl BernsteinTrump calls Carl Bernstein 'total nut job' after CNN analyst's 'homicidal president' charge Carl Bernstein: Woodward's Trump tapes 'smoking gun' of 'homicidal negligence' Bob Woodward to appear on '60 Minutes' Sunday to discuss new Trump book, 'Rage' MORE argued President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE's interviews with former colleague Bob Woodward are "the smoking gun of his negligence," accusing Trump of committing "one of the great presidential felonies of all time" in a CNN interview on Wednesday.

"We are listening to the president of the United States on tape deliberately undermining the national security of the United States, the health and well-being of the people of the United States, and he’s doing this knowingly, in real time. It is the smoking gun of his negligence," Bernstein told "CNN Newsroom."

Bernstein was specifically commenting on Trump's remarks to Woodward about the coronavirus. Trump told Woodward he "wanted to always play it down" to avoid creating a panic. The book details how Trump in private talked about the severity of the virus to Woodward as he played it down in public.

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"We listen to him cover up this grave national emergency," Bernstein said. "This is one of the great presidential felonies of all time, maybe the greatest presidential felony, and we have the smoking gun tape of the president committing the felony.

"Let’s talk about what this really is. This is a kind of homicidal negligence," Bernstein added, saying thousands of lives might have been lost to the president's desire to win reelection.

"As we hear on the tapes and see throughout Bob’s book, 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. We’ve never had a president who’s done anything like this before," he said.

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Trump defended his remarks on Wednesday, telling reporters that he didn't want to drive "this country or the world into a frenzy."

"If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that's so," Trump said when asked if he downplayed the virus to avoid panic.

"The fact is I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country," the president continued. "I don't want people to be frightened. I don't want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I'm not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy."

"We want to show confidence. We want to show strength. We want to show strength as a nation," he added.

Reporting from Woodward and Bernstein in The Washington Post on the Watergate scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974. The investigative reporting earned the duo Pulitzer Prizes in 1973.

Woodward, 77, currently serves as associate editor of the Post, while Bernstein signed on with CNN as an analyst in 2007.