Woodward: Restricting travel from China wasn't Trump's idea

Journalist Bob Woodward said early Monday that restricting travel from China in response to the coronavirus pandemic was not President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE’s idea.

Host Savannah Guthrie noted on NBC's "Today" that Woodward’s book “Rage” claims that Trump implemented the restrictions on the advice of his administration’s health experts, including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter NY health officials to review any vaccine approved by Trump MORE, after a Jan. 28 meeting.

“It's not that President Trump banned travel, people coming from China to the United States. He restricted it, and as we now know, there were some problems and lots of people from China instead of coming to the United States went to Europe and then came into John F. Kennedy airport in New York,” Woodward replied. “And that's why there was such a firestorm of a virus in New York City at that time.”

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Woodward went on to suggest that the president had an opportunity to emphasize the threat of the pandemic days later at his State of the Union address in early February, rather than the passing mention it received.

“He had an opportunity he's saying, 'Well we're doing everything possible,'” Woodward said. “At that moment if, like, Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor had told the American people the truth, a lot more could have been done.”

Woodward also again defended his decision to not publicize the president's comments in February that the virus was “deadly stuff” and airborne.

“In February I thought it was all about China, because the President had told me about a discussion with Chinese President Xi. And if you look at what was known in February, the virus was not on anyone's mind. No one was suggesting changing behavior,” he said. “Then when it exploded in March, as you know, there were 30,000 new cases a day. Publishing something at that point would not have been telling people anything they didn't know. They knew very clearly that it was dangerous.”