A newly released book has revealed that President Donald Trump knew of Covid-19’s danger and lethality before it reached the country and chose to deliberately downplay the effects it could have on the country.
The book features interviews conducted between Trump and one of the nation’s most respected journalists, Bob Woodward. Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, spoke with Trump on 18 separate occasions from December to July.
In the book, Trump is quoted as telling Woodward the virus was ‘deadly stuff’, before the first US death. Now, there are around 190,000 Americans who have lost their life as a result of Covid-19.
Trump and his administration have responded, claiming the president took the approach he did in order to keep the country calm and not instigate widespread panic.
“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, and 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,” President Trump said, facing questions at the White House after releasing the new list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
“We want to show strength as a nation and that’s what I’ve done. And we’ve done very well. We’ve done well from any standard. You look at our numbers compared to other countries, other parts of the world, it’s been an amazing job that we’ve done.
“I think it’s very sad in many respects because the incredible individuals working so hard on it, including our Vice President, they’ve done this great job. They haven’t been acknowledged by the news media and they should for the job we’ve done, whether it’s ventilators.
“And now you’ll see very soon with vaccines and with therapeutics, the job we’ve done has been incredible, but we don’t want to instill panic. We don’t want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem, scare everybody,” the president continued.
Most other world leaders took a different route to Trump, instead opting for a blunter approach. For example, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was upfront with his public and spoke of the incoming deaths: “Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”
“And I’ll tell you the other thing, we immediately started buying all over the world. We started buying masks and gowns and everything else, and we don’t want to cause pricing to go up to a level that becomes almost unaffordable. So yeah. And so in that sense, I agree with it,” Trump continued at the White House.
“Well, I think that’s a really big part of trust. We have to have leadership. We have to show leadership. And the last thing you want to do is create a panic in the country. This was a horrible thing. It was sent to us by China. Should not have happened, should never have happened.
“This is a disgusting, terrible situation that was foisted upon us. And we have to show, we just don’t want to use, the best word is panic. We don’t want to have to show panic. We’re not going to show panic. And that’s exactly what I did. And I was very open, whether it’s to Woodward or anybody else, it’s just another political hit job,” the president added.
“But whether it was Woodward or anybody else, you cannot show a sense of panic or you’re going to have bigger problems than you ever had before.”
Since the start of the year, Trump has consistently downplayed the virus and pandemic and then been forced to readjust his stance when the situation has deteriorated. Now, Trump, his administration and advisers have begun to speak of the pandemic in the past tense, as if the troubles were behind the country.
Top scientists argue in the opposite direction, however, and expect to see a surge in the fall, following the pattern of other respiratory diseases.
“So I think if we didn’t do what we did, we would have had millions of people die. We closed up our country. We close it up very, very quickly, very effectively. We did a job. We learned about this horrible disease along with the rest of the world, which had to learn about it. And then we opened it up and now we know the vulnerable, we know who it attacks, who it’s so vicious against,” Trump said.
“And I think we’ve done from every standpoint an incredible job. We shouldn’t have lost anybody. Nobody should have lost. China released something that they shouldn’t have been allowed to, they should not have released. It came out of China, it went to Europe, it went all over the world, should have never happened. They could’ve stopped it.
“They stopped it from going into the remainder of China. It started in Wuhan and they stopped it, but they didn’t stop it from coming to our country.”