The explosive revelations that came from wide-ranging interviews Trump gave Woodward from December 5, 2019, to July 21, 2020, have baffled the entire nation as it continues to be strangled by the deadly coronavirus. Based on the interviews, copies of which were obtained by CNN, US President Donald Trump knew exactly how deadly the coronavirus was even before it hit the US. The shocking revelation is that Trump chose to play down the threat on purpose.
According to Pulitzer-winning journalist Bob Woodward, Trump admitted knowing coronavirus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and more deadly than flu weeks before the first confirmed death due to the virus was reported in the US.
This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.
As a part of Trump's interviews with Woodward, the president had admitted that coronavirus was maybe five times deadlier than the flu. But the decision to downplay the threat posed by the virus was a conscious choice.
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." It's worth noting that Trump had declared a national emergency over the virus days before his statement.
Trump's repeatedly downplayed risks publicly
Despite knowing the risks associated with the virus, Trump chose to play it down. Instead of taking necessary precautions, he kept saying the virus is going to disappear and everything will be just fine. If only Trump had initiated a strict shutdown, enforced masks and social distancing practices, thousands of lives could have been saved, experts suggest.
Researchers at Columbia University had believed if Americans had started social distancing just a week earlier, it could have prevented the loss of at least 36,000 lives to the coronavirus. Taking this into account, Trump knew about the threat the virus posed even before the first confirmed death, which goes on to show the negligence demonstrated by the president.
By April, the US had become the country with the most confirmed cases in the world. Even then, Trump's public statements contradicted his acknowledgments to Woodward.
For instance, on April 3 coronavirus task force briefing, Trump was still downplaying the virus and stating that it would go away. "I said it's going away and it is going away." Two days later, Trump told Woodward, "It's a horrible thing. It's unbelievable," and on April 13, he said, "It's so easily transmissible, you wouldn't even believe it."
President's inactions draw criticism
Even though the GOP senators and Republicans are defending Trump, the president is facing a lot of flak for his timely inaction.
"He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed do his job on purpose," Joe Biden said.
"He didn't know how to cope with the challenge to our country. Secondly, his disdain and denial for science, which has the answers. He could have contained this early on," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.