According to yet another book about the US president, due for release next Tuesday, Trump told a reporter early on in the pandemic that he played down the COVID-19 crisis despite knowing its seriousness.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told author Bob Woodward as early on as March 19, reports Independent Online. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
In his interviews with Woodward, Trump seemed to demonstrate an understanding of how easily the disease spreads, and knew that as early on as February, yet decided to keep down-playing the severity of the disease.
“It goes through the air,” Trump said in a a February 7 interview with the writer. “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.”
According to Associated Press, Woodward’s book even quotes the president as calling the virus “deadly stuff”.
Only a week after this interview with Woodward, Trump stated at a White House briefing that the number of coronavirus cases in the US “within a couple days is going to be down close to zero” and dismissing it as no worse than the flu.
In a March 19 conversation, Trump told Woodward that “startling facts” had emerged which showed the extent of those at risk of the virus: “It’s not just old, older. Young people too, plenty of young people.”
Woodward’s new book goes on sale next Tuesday, mere weeks before the US presidential election, and bolsters the already rampant criticism of Trump’s efforts –or lack thereof – against COVID-19. Many, though, are wondering why the author decided to keep this information about the president to himself for so long as the pandemic ravaged the country. Online commentators have gone so far as to accuse Woodward of valuing book sales above public health.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward defended himself in a telephonic interview with AP.
Woodward claims that only in May was he satisfied that Trump’s comments in his earlier interviews were based on reliable information and that by then COVID-19 had spread nationwide. His goal, he says, was to get the story out before the presidential election on 3 November.
“That was the demarcation line for me,” he said. “Had I decided that my book was coming out on Christmas, the end of this year, that would have been unthinkable.”
Woodward conducted 18 interviews with Trump for the book between December 2019 and June 2020. Other revelations it includes are Trump’s disparaging remarks about U.S. military leaders for caring more about alliances than trade deals, and Trumps thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to the book, when asked about his views on white privilege and whether he felt isolated by that privilege from the plight of Black Americans, Trump responded:”No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”
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