President Donald Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that he knew covid-19 was deadly, but wanted to avoid panic
Before the coronavirus hit the country, US President Donald Trump knew it was more deadly than the flu, but wanted to minimize it to avoid panic, as quoted by a new book by Bob Woodward.
Woodward, who exposed the Watergate scandal and is one of the most respected journalists in the US, interviewed Trump 18 times between December and July.
In interviews for his new publication, “Rage,” Trump told Woodward that the virus was “somewhat deadly,” even before the first death in the US was confirmed on February 29. , while in public he made very different statements.
In response to the book launch, the president said he had wanted to avoid causing panic in people.
Until this Thursday, more than 19one,000 Americans they had died from covid-19, since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, some US media published parts of the interviews between the president and the journalist, in which they talk about the outbreak, racism and other topics.
Here are three key quotes from “Rage,” which will hit bookstores on September 15, and what the president said in public.
1. “It goes through the air”
The virus “is going through the air,” Trump told Woodward in an interview on February 7.
“That is always more difficult than touch. You don’t have to touch things. True? The air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it happens, ”said the president.
2. “It’s a deadly thing” / “it’s deadlier than the flu”
As you can hear in the recording of one of the interviews, Trump told Woodward on February 7 that the coronavirus was more deadly than the flu.
“So that’s a very complicated thing. It is very delicate. It is also more deadly than even the strenuous flu, ”he noted.
“It’s a deadly thing,” Trump repeated as emphasis, according to the newspaper. The Washington Post, which published previews of the book.
3. “I always wanted to minimize it”
Trump acknowledged in another interview with Woodward that he knew more about the severity of the disease than he had publicly acknowledged.
On March 19, when the White House had already declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Woodward: “I always wanted to minimize it. I still prefer to minimize it, because I don’t want to create panic.
What Trump said in public
Between February and March, Trump made very different statements in public.
On February 24, Trump wrote on Twitter that the virus was “pretty much under control.”
A couple of days later, on February 26, when there were already 15 cases, Trump said that “in a couple of days” the infections would “go down to almost zero.” “We have done a pretty good job,” he insisted.
He also publicly hinted that the flu was more dangerous than covid-19.
A day later, Trump said the virus was going to “go away”: “It’s going to go away. One day, like a miracle, it will disappear ”.
Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, Trump said: “We are doing a great job on the virus. And it will disappear. Just keep calm. It will go”.
How have Trump and the White House reacted to the book?
Woodward has been questioned for withholding the president’s comments on the pandemic and some critics say it was an unethical decision.
In a tweet Thursday, Trump asked why Woodward hadn’t reported his covid-19 quotes earlier if he thought they were “bad and dangerous.”
Because “I knew they were good and appropriate answers,” Trump said.
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, don’t panic!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2020
The president, who is running for reelection in November, called Woodward’s book “a political job.”
The journalist defended himself in The Washington Post and Associated Press on Wednesday, saying he needed to verify whether what Trump had told him was true and to know what his sources were.
“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is that I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward told The Post.
This Wednesday, Trump again referred to his statements in Woodward’s book.
“I don’t want people to be scared, I don’t want to create panic, and I’m certainly not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy,” the president said at a conference at the White House.
“We want to show confidence, we want to show strength.”
Responding to reporters’ questions about the book, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The President never downplayed the virus. The president expressed calm. The president took it seriously. “
Antolisis of Tara McKelvey, correspondent of the BBC in the white house
Leaders are responsible for keeping people calm, but there is a fine line between avoiding panic and making a crisis worse. President Trump told Woodward that Covid-19 was more deadly than the flu, but publicly downplayed the danger.
Other leaders took a different approach. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said bluntly that people would die: “Many families will lose loved ones before their time.”
Trump downplayed the virus from the start. In recent weeks, his advisers began talking about the coronavirus in the past tense, as if the problem had disappeared.
Scientists disagree, saying there is likely to be a sudden spike in fall, following the pattern of other respiratory illnesses. However, one fact is irrefutable. Trump wants people to see him as a strong leader. He also wants them to go to the polls and vote, and not worry about the virus.
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