Donald Trump admitted that he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death hit that the disease was dangerous and “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” even though after that point, the president repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book Rage. And we can expect some rage-tweeting following the Washington Post releasing excerpts of the book.
On Jan. 28, when the novel coronavirus outbreak in China was discussed, Trump’s national security adviser told Trump that it was a threat to the United States.
“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump, according to Woodward’s book. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”
Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed with that assessment and told the Trump that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918 — which took an estimated 50 million lives worldwide, the outlet reports.
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Trump called Woodward ten days later and revealed that he was aware of how deadly the virus was, and in March, the president admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call to Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
“This is deadly stuff,” the president said again.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19th, even as he had just declared a national emergency over the disease just days earlier. “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
The revelations in Woodward’s book, set to be released on September 15, were made during 18 wide-ranging interviews that Trump gave Woodward from December 5, 2019, to July 21, 2020. And Woodward has the receipts since Trump gave his permission to record the sessions.
“It’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob.”
— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) September 9, 2020
Indeed, Trump still plays the coronavirus down. On Wednesday at this rally in North Carolina, Trump mocked social distancing guidelines to a sparsely masked crowd. He did that even though over one hundred and ninety thousand Americans have died from the disease, and over six million U.S. citizens have contracted COVID-19. It would be nice to have a president that’s not a psychopath.