WASHINGTON (AP/CNN) – A new book reveals that President Donald Trump seemed to understand the severity of the coronavirus threat even as he was telling the nation that it was no worse than the seasonal flu and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control.
According to Bob Woodward’s book, Trump told the journalist on Feb. 7: “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.”
Trump is also quoted as saying, “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
Trump told Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger, saying: “I wanted to always play it down.”
Excerpts from the book were reported Wednesday by The Washington Post and CNN.
According to CNN, in the book “Rage,” Trump says the job of a president is “to keep our country safe.” But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.
In his State of the Union address in February, Trump promised his administratrion would take all necessary steps to keep Americans safe from what he called “a threat.”
The new revelations were recorded with the president’s permission in 18 different interviews from December 5, 2019 to July 21, 2020.
To date, the coronavirus has infected 6.3 million Americans and killed 190,000 in the United States.
The book also includes scathing reviews of Trump's leadership during the pandemic from several top officials.
The White House is responding to the tapes.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany says the president has never lied to the American public about coronavirus.
She said Trump just wanted to convey calm when he publicly downplayed the virus while privately acknowledging its severity.