In the recording, Trump recalls an incident where someone sneezed in the Oval Office in April and he "bailed" from the room.

By Nick Romano
September 15, 2020 at 09:34 AM EDT
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Stephen Colbert got the scoop on one of Bob Woodward's never-before-played audio recordings from the veteran journalist's interviews earlier in the year with President Donald Trump.

In the recording, dated April 13, 2020, Trump recounts a moment in the Oval Office "a couple days" prior where "a guy sneezed innocently" during "a meeting of 10 people."

"The entire room bailed out, OK?" Trump is heard saying. "Including me, by the way."

Colbert says Trump is clearly "making light" towards the end, but that this interaction reveals "something extraordinarily shocking." Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19 as the rate of infections in the United States surpassed other countries. On March 9, downplaying the situation again by comparing it to the flu, Trump tweeted, "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

In Woodward's book Rage, for which he interviewed Trump multiple times, the president admits he purposefully downplayed the severity of the respiratory illness when he knew how dangerous and easily spreadable it was.

This past Sunday, Trump held a rally indoors in Nevada, despite the state's COVID-19-prompted restrictions. “God knows how many people there, all packed together," Woodward remarked on The Late Show. "I wonder if someone sneezed in the front row if Trump would bail out again and get out of the way."

"Anyway, this is too serious a matter," he continued. "As you know, 190,000 people have died and my reporting shows that he knew back in January."

Watch EW's new daily series, Last Night's Late Night, every morning on Quibi.

For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.

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