US President Donald Trump, has gone defensive after a new book revealed he knew how “deadly” coronavirus was as far back as February, but in public he was declaring to Americans it was no worse than the flu while insisting it was under control.
The claims made in a new book by journalist, Bob Woodward, and released on Wednesday September 9, say Trump deceived Americans publicly but in private was really scared about the disease.
Coming less than eight weeks before Election Day, the revelations in the book claim the president’s handling of the pandemic that has allegedly so far killed about 190,000 Americans even as Trump pushes for a resumption of normal activity to bolster his political position in his electoral campaign against rival, Joe Biden.
In a Feb. 7 call with Woodward, Trump said of the virus: “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.”
“This is deadly stuff,” the president added.
Then Just three days later, Trump said in an interview with Fox Business: “I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine.”
According to Trump, he told Woodward in March that his public rhetoric was part of a strategy to deliberately minimize the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Though he restricted travel from China in January, Trump did not begin to devote extensive federal resources to procuring vital personal protective equipment, including face masks, or expand the production of ventilators until March. In fact, U.S. officials recommended against widespread mask wearing until April in part because of a shortage of protective masks required by front-line medical workers.
Trump has now defended himself saying, he was just being a “cheerleader” for the nation and trying to keep everyone calm.
Speaking at the White House, Trump acknowledged he downplayed the virus, insisting he was trying to strengthen Americans and the world.
“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say,” Trump told reporters.
“Certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.”
Biden has now seized the opportunity to attack Trump saying the book shows Trump “lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”
“While a deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job — on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said at a campaign event in Michigan.
Biden’s campaign released a new ad on Wednesday night featuring the audiotapes of Trump’s remarks. “And Trump knew all along,” the ad’s narrator says.