Woodward audio: Trump focused on stock market as coronavirus surged in August

Woodward audio: Trump focused on stock market as coronavirus surged in August
© Getty Images/Simon and Schuster

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE remained largely focused on the stock market in August even as Bob Woodward told him the economic recovery would likely hinge on successfully mitigating the coronavirus pandemic, according to recordings of an interview between the president and the veteran journalist.

During a call Aug. 14, Trump asked Woodward: "So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?"

“Oh sure. They’re related, as you know,” Woodward responded.

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Trump the conceded they were “a little bit” related, according to audio obtained by CNN.

"I mean, more than a little bit. But the economy is doing — look, we're close to a new stock market record” the president added when prompted by Woodward.

On the same call, Woodward tells Trump that his book, “Rage,” is “tough” and “close to the bone.”

"You know the market's coming back very strong, you do know that," Trump responds before asking Woodward if that is covered in the book.

The president also repeatedly asks Woodward if he intends to portray Trump positively in the book, according to audio of the interview.

In their final call, Woodward mentions that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a frequent Trump critic, praised the deal the president brokered to normalize Israeli-United Arab Emirates relations.

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"He's come a long way. The next one I need is you," Trump said. "But it looks like I don't have it on this book, but we'll get you sometime later, I guess."

Woodward last week released audio of a February interview in which the president acknowledged that the virus was “deadly stuff” and considerably more dangerous than the flu. In another interview in March, Trump said he was deliberately “play[ing] it down” to avoid panic.

Trump defended these comments last Thursday.  

"If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad, then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know,” he said.