President Donald Trump acknowledged that “perhaps” he downplayed the coronavirus threat in early February to “reduce panic” among the public, while privately acknowledging COVID-19 was “deadly,” after recordings are released.
Woodward interview with Trump shows President minimizing seriousness of COVID-19
Journalist Bob Woodward, who soared to fame along with his co-author Carl Bernstein in the early 70s after the release of their book all the Presidents men, which exposed the Watergate Scandal around then-President Richard Nixon, is raising eyebrows once again with the release of his latest best-selling book titled Rage.
According to the book, Trump told Woodward during a conversation on February 7 that COVID-19 “is deadly stuff,” NPR reports.
“This is deadly stuff,” President Trump told Woodward during an interview for the book. “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 flu.”
Audio recordings of the interviews Bob Woodward had with President Trump in researching the book were released by the Washington Post on Wednesday, bringing scrutiny on the president.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in a March 19 call with Woodward. “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,” according to an audio clip posted Wednesday on The Post’s website, NBC reported.
Trump acknowledges downplaying coronavirus threat, after release of audio from Woodward’s book interview
On Wednesday, President Trump was asked by reporters if he downplayed the severity of the virus or purposely misled the public in order to avoid panic. President Trump appeared to acknowledge that “perhaps” he had done so, The Hill reported.
“If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so,” Trump said.
“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country,” Trump continued. “I love our country. I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.”
“We want to show confidence,” Trump added. “We want to show strength. We want to show strength as a nation.”
Trump calls Woodward’s book a “political hit job,” McEnany defends president
Trump tweeted on Wednesday: “For years Fake stories and investigations, then the phony Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX, next Ukraine and the failed Impeachment, now the crummy Atlantic Magazine’s MADE UP STORY, and lastly, the political hit job by rapidly fading Bob Woodward and his boring book. It never ends!”
On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”
White House Press Secretary McEnany defends Trump
Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary McEnany defended the efforts of President Trump to maintain calm and avoid a panic over the coronavirus pandemic, Fox reported.
“When you are facing insurmountable challenges, it is important to express confidence, it is important to express calm,” McEnany said. “He makes clear that he doesn’t want to see chaos.”
“The president just days after having this discussion with Bob Woodward, said this from this podium, on March 30, he said, ‘I do want them to stay calm, we are doing a great job, if you look at the individual statements they are all true, stay calm, it will go away but it’s important to stay calm,’” McEnany continued.
“So this president does what leaders do — good leaders — it’s stay calm and resolute at a time when you face an insurmountable challenge.”