At the same time as he publicly sought to downplay the specter of the coronavirus to People earlier this 12 months, President Trump instructed creator Bob Woodward that he knew the virus was severe and lethal.
“That is lethal stuff,” Trump instructed Woodward on Feb. 7, three weeks earlier than the primary U.S. demise from COVID-19 was introduced.
In keeping with audio excerpts from interviews Woodward carried out for his forthcoming book, “Rage,” excerpts of which had been revealed Wednesday, Trump instructed journalist and Washington Put up columnist that he knew the virus — which has now killed greater than 890,000 folks worldwide and over 190,000 People — was “extra lethal than even your strenuous flus.”
“You simply breathe the air and that’s the way it’s handed,” Trump mentioned, including: “That is lethal stuff.”
The president’s feedback to Woodward in regards to the coronavirus had been in stark distinction with what he was saying in public:
On the identical day of his Feb. 7 interview with Woodward, the president instructed on Twitter that the coronavirus would disappear as “the climate begins to heat.”
On March 7, when requested by reporters whether or not he was involved in regards to the pandemic affecting the U.S., Trump mentioned: “No, I’m not involved in any respect.”
On March 9, Trump tweeted: “So final 12 months 37,000 People died from the widespread Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per 12 months. Nothing is shut down, life & the financial system go on. At this second there are 546 confirmed instances of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Take into consideration that!”
In one other interview with Woodward, on March 19, Trump admitted that he was deliberately downplaying the specter of the virus.
“I wished to all the time play it down,” he mentioned. “I nonetheless like taking part in it down, as a result of I don’t need to create a panic.”
In the identical interview, the president acknowledged that youthful People had been prone to contracting the lethal virus.
“Now it’s turning out it’s not simply outdated folks,” Trump mentioned. “It’s loads of younger folks.”
But simply final month, the president instructed that youthful People “don’t get very sick.”
Woodward additionally studies that in late January, nationwide safety adviser Robert O’Brien instructed Trump that the virus could be the “biggest nationwide safety risk” of his presidency. In an interview on Could 6, Woodward requested Trump if he remembered O’Brien’s dire warning.
“No, I don’t.” Trump mentioned. “I’m positive if he mentioned it — you already know, I’m positive he mentioned it. Good man.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s main infectious illness knowledgeable and a member of the White Home coronavirus activity power, instructed Woodward that Trump was unfocused in conferences in regards to the U.S. response to the pandemic.
“His consideration span is sort of a minus quantity,” Fauci mentioned, in keeping with Woodward. “His sole objective is to get reelected.”
“Rage,” the follow-up to Woodward’s different book about Trump, “Worry,” relies partially on 18 on-the-record interviews Woodward carried out with the president between December 2019 and July 2020. It’s set to be revealed Tuesday.
At a press briefing on the White Home Wednesday afternoon, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to defend Trump’s feedback.
“The president by no means downplayed the virus,” McEnany mentioned, regardless of Trump’s assertion, on tape to Woodward, that he was doing precisely that.
At a marketing campaign cease in Warren, Mich., Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, rapidly seized upon Trump’s feedback to Woodward.
“He lied to the American folks,” Biden mentioned. “He had the data. He knew how harmful it was. Whereas this lethal illness ripped by way of our nation, he didn’t do his job on objective. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American folks.”
In different excerpts from the book, Trump apparently disclosed the existence of a top-secret nuclear weapons system.
“I’ve constructed a nuclear — a weapons system that no one’s ever had on this nation earlier than,” Trump mentioned. “We’ve got stuff you have not even seen or heard about.”
In keeping with Woodward, nameless sources later confirmed the existence of a new weapons system, however wouldn’t present additional particulars.
In one other excerpt revealed by the Washington Put up, Trump disparaged members of his personal administration, calling the generals serving below him a “bunch of pussies.”
“My f***ing generals are a bunch of pussies,” Trump instructed his commerce adviser, Peter Navarro, in keeping with Woodward. “They care extra about their alliances than they do about commerce offers.”
In keeping with the book, a kind of generals, former Protection Secretary Jim Mattis, quietly went to Washington Nationwide Cathedral to wish about his concern for the nation’s destiny below Trump.
Mattis additionally instructed Daniel Coats, former director of nationwide intelligence, that “there could come a time when we have now to take collective motion” since Trump is “harmful” and “unfit” as commander in chief.
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