President Donald Trump is facing criticism after a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward quoted the president in February as saying that he wanted to downplay the coronavirus and admitted that the virus is deadly.
Trump’s statements to Woodward admitting the seriousness of the virus contrasted with his public statements. Specifically, Trump repeatedly compared the coronavirus to the flu in public, while he told Woodward, “It’s also more deadly than your, even your strenuous flus.”
Moments later, Trump added, “This is more deadly, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent, so you know, this is deadly stuff.”
This is the tape: 🔊pic.twitter.com/ozX8O8fVKm— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) September 9, 2020
But publicly, Trump’s remarks were much different. In a February press briefing, Trump said of the coronavirus, “But that’s a little bit like the flu. It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”
In early March, Trump tweeted, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
During the White House press briefing on Thursday ABC News reporter Jon Karl asked Trump “Why did you lie to the American people?”
He also asked why Americans should trust him.
The president shot back, “Such a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn’t lie, what I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”
Trump added, “Certainly, if [Woodward] thought that was a bad statement, he would have reported it because he thinks that you don’t want to have anybody that is going to suffer medically because of some fact. And he didn’t report it because he didn’t think it was bad.”
.@jonkarl: "Why did you lie to the American people? Why should we trust what you have to say now?"— CSPAN (@cspan) September 10, 2020
President Trump: Such a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn't lie."
Full video here: https://t.co/EYGgLk4KMP pic.twitter.com/T5dmwDNIP0
Trump continued to blast Karl, saying, “And your question, the way you phrased that, is such a disgrace. It’s a disgrace to ABC television network, it’s a disgrace to your employer.”
When Karl asked about Trump’s public statements comparing the coronavirus to the flu while he privately told Woodward that the coronavirus is much more serious, Trump said, “We’ve had flu years where we lost 100,000 people. The flu is a very serious problem for this country also.”