President Donald Trump downplayed reporting by Bob Woodward, offering a weak defense for his remarks amid criticism that the journalist withheld that the president openly lied to Americans about the coronavirus pandemic and intentionally minimized the disease’s severity.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted in response to the public conversation surrounding Woodward’s forthcoming book, “Rage.” Per CNN, which obtained an early copy of the book, Trump reportedly told Woodward in one of their many interviews for the work: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
When the quote hit social media, Woodward was lambasted for waiting until his book came out to drop such a bombshell. In tandem with this, Trump tweeted that Woodward didn’t publish his quotes sooner “in an effort to save lives” because “he knew they were good and proper answers.”
“Calm, no panic!” wrote the president.
Trump’s latest comments come on the heels of a press conference Wednesday in which the president did not deny he made the remarks and defended downplaying the virus.
“If you said ‘in order to reduce panic,’ perhaps that’s so,” he said. “I’m a cheerleader for this country. I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic.”
He went on to lash out at the book, calling it “just another political hit job.” He later referred to Woodward as “rapidly fading” and the book as “boring” in a tweet.
Also on Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed Trump “has never lied to the American public on COVID” and declared he “never downplayed the virus.”
As HuffPost outlined on Wednesday, here are just some of Trump’s outright falsehoods on the virus:
“We have it very much under control in this country.” “It’s going to be just fine.” “It’s one person coming in from China.” “We’re doing a great job with it.” “It’s going to have a very good ending for us.” “We’re in great shape.” “We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” “Just stay calm. It will go away.” “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
Woodward told The Associated Press that he held Trump’s comments for his book because he wasn’t sure they were based on reliable information until May when the coronavirus had spread across the U.S.
“If I had done the story at that time about what he knew in February, that’s not telling us anything we didn’t know,” he told the outlet, adding that his goal became publishing his story before the November election.
“That was the demarcation line for me. Had I decided that my book was coming out on Christmas, the end of this year, that would have been unthinkable,” he said.
Ahead of a campaign speech in Warren, Michigan, on Wednesday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed Trump for tamping down the crisis.
“He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months,” said Biden.
In a tweet that same day, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) accused Trump of committing “reckless homicide.”
“Having read more of the excerpts in the Woodward book where @realDonaldTrump is on tape, I’ve concluded this is not just dereliction of duty by @POTUS,” wrote Lieu. “Trump repeatedly lied to the American people and that resulted in preventable deaths. This is reckless homicide.
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