President Donald Trump admits he tried to minimize the lethal threat of the coronavirus at the outset of the pandemic in audio recordings released from interviews with veteran US journalist Bob Woodward.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in an interview with Bob Woodward, according to a his new book “Rage,” due to publish on September 15.
“I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” he said in the conversation with Woodward.
In an earlier interviews with the journalist, he made clear he understood well that the virus was “deadly stuff” — far more dangerous than the ordinary flu.
In public, however, Trump had been repeatedly telling Americans that the virus should not be considered much of a danger and would “disappear” by itself.
“He knew how deadly it was,” Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden said while campaigning in Michigan.
“He lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”
“It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” Biden added.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told that Trump’s only motivation in downplaying the dangers had been to reassure the public.
“It’s important to express confidence, it’s important to express calm,” she said. “The president has never lied to the American public on Covid.”
The country’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House task force on Covid-19, Anthony Fauci said he did not get the sense the president had distorted concerns.
“In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had… When he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things,” Fauci told.
However, the US death toll from Covid-19 is expected soon to pass 200,000, looming heavily over the November 3 presidential election in which Trump is currently behind in the polls.