Donald Trump Downplayed Coronavirus Threat From The Beginning, President Says In Taped Bob Woodward Interview

Long before he declared a national emergency over the spread of the coronavirus in March, President Donald Trump said in a taped interview with journalist Bob Woodward that he knew the virus was airborne, highly contagious and far deadlier than the flu.

After he’d declared a national emergency March 13, Trump said he was downplaying a virus that has now killed 190,000 Americans.

“I always wanted to play it down,” Trump told Woodward in a March 19 interview, according to CNN. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Trump Interviewed 18 Times By Watergate Vet: “This is deadly stuff,” Trump said of COVID-19 in a Feb. 7 interview with Woodward.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

The quote comes from Woodward’s upcoming book “Rage,” the contents of which CNN and others reported on Wednesday.

With fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, Woodward famously cracked open the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Woodward's 'Rage': Woodward faced some criticism Wednesday over keeping the revelations in “Rage” under wraps until now. The book is set for release Sept. 15.

Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times between Dec. 5, 2019, and July 21 of this year and recorded the interviews with Trump’s permission, according to CNN.

Biden Says Trump Betrayed America: Trump’s acknowledgment of the true nature of the coronavirus to Woodward early in the pandemic stands at odds with his public statements, which have included assurances that COVID-19 was “going to disappear” and that it would “all work out fine.”

Trump has not worn a mask in public with few exceptions, pressured states to reopen their economies from public health lockdowns and held large, in-person rallies during the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Trump called Woodward’s book “a political hit job,” adding: “I don’t want to create panic.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaking at a campaign event in Warren, Michigan, said Trump “failed to do his job — on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”

Trump’s actions are “beyond despicable,” he said. “It’s a dereliction of duty.”

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President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Sept. 3. White House photo by Tia Dufour. 

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