Fox News’ Bret Baier pushed back against President Donald Trump’s campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh on Thursday after he claimed the president said “the same things” to the public about COVID-19 as he did to journalist Bob Woodward.
Trump told Woodward that for months he knowingly downplayed the threat COVID-19 posed during interviews for the journalist’s upcoming book. Excerpts of the recordings – which the president reportedly consented to – from the book “Rage” were obtained by CNN and published Wednesday.
In the recordings, Trump says that he “wanted to always play it down” and that he still likes “playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” (RELATED: ‘Political Hit Job’: Trump Responds To Woodward Recordings Showing He Downplayed Coronavirus Danger)
Baier brought up the Woodward tapes Thursday and noted that people are “coming hard after the president for what he said to Bob Woodward and what he said on the record.” Murtaugh responded by claiming that “the things that are contained in there are the same things that President Trump was saying publicly” and Baier interrupted to contradict Murtaugh.
“That’s not true, Tim,” Baier said. “That’s not true.”
Murtaugh then doubled down on his statement that Trump said the same things publicly as he told Woodward in the tapes.
“When he said that the virus would go from 15 to zero and then it was magically going to wash away, that is not the same thing he’s telling Bob Woodward, that it’s a deadly virus over the air and it’s really serious and I like to downplay it,” Baier continued, pressing the claims. “He was not saying the same things privately to Bob Woodward.”
Murtaugh then said “it was public knowledge at the time” and that “it was discussed in coronavirus briefings.” He said that “everyone knew … it was transmitted through things like coughing and sneezing.”
“OK, but you just said that what he was saying privately and publicly was the same. It’s not,” Baier responded.
The Trump campaign spokesman then brought up White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying that he “said it is the same.”
“You just played the sound bite from him,” Murtaugh began to say. “Dr. Fauci said there was no … difference with what the president was discussing privately versus… ”
“With Fauci, not with Bob Woodward,” Baier said, again calling Murtaugh out before trying to move on with the interview.