Trump admits to concealing truth about coronavirus: ‘I wanted to always play it down’
President Donald Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that the coronavirus was more 'deadly' than the flu
President Donald Trump admitted that COVID-19 was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” but still downplayed the virus to veteran reporter Bob Woodward.
‘Rage,’ is the latest offering from the award-winning journalist and CNN obtained exclusive excerpts of the book ahead of its Sept. 15 release. Woodward interviewed the president and he admitted that he knew how crippling coronavirus could be.
The audiotapes were published by the outlet on Wednesday.
“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7.
Trump had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus and knew more than most about its effects.
“It goes through the air,” Trump said. “That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
Still, Trump insisted to the public that the virus would “disappear,” and would be “very much under control,” in February. The president claimed to Woodward that he did not want to publicly acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus to prevent a “panic” from setting into place.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Trump also knew the virus didn’t just target “old people.”
The White House pushed back against the claims that Trump “lied” to the public about the virus.
“The president has never lied to the American public on COVID,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press briefing Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, 6,345,700 Americans have been infected and 189,500 people have died per The New York Times data. Many believe that these infections and death rates would have been lower if the Trump administration had been more proactive.
Woodward wrote the president ignored his national security adviser Robert O’Brien who sounded the alarm about the pandemic during a January secret intelligence briefing.
O’Brien warned that the virus was the “biggest national security threat,” to the public and his presidency. Nonetheless, Woodward maintains that Trump failed to “the leadership clock” despite the coronavirus being a “once-in-a-lifetime health emergency.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease expert, is also mentioned as being alarmed at Trump’s reluctance to be more proactive. He is quoted as believing Trump only cared about his election prospects.
“His sole purpose is to get reelected,” Fauci told an associate, according to Woodward.
In Trump’s final interview with Woodward in July, he would not take any responsibility for the spread of the virus. He blamed China instead where the first case of coronavirus was confirmed last December in Wuhan.
“The virus has nothing to do with me,” Trump said. “It’s not my fault. It’s — China let the damn virus out.”
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