Trump admitted during an interview with Woodward on March 19, “To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He continued, “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Amid the 18 interviews totaling nine hours with Woodward, Trump also admitted on February 17 to Woodward that the coronavirus is “deadly stuff.”
In response to the president’s remarks, Graham pushed back on the idea that Trump was wrong to have downplayed to coronavirus pandemic, according to The Daily Beast.
Graham told the publication, “The idea of the president saying we’re not all going to die seems smart to me.”
The South Carolina lawmaker also told CNN, “I don’t think he needs to go on TV and screaming we’re all going to die.”
“His actions of shutting the economy down were the right actions. I think the tone during that time sort of spoke for itself. People knew it was serious,” he added.
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Listen to Trump admit that he intentionally downplayed COVID-19 in newly surfaced interview audio with Bob Woodward pic.twitter.com/hgrE3zskWL— NowThis Impact (@nowthisimpact) September 9, 2020
Other Republican lawmakers also weighed on Trump admitting he downplayed the threat of the virus to avoid Americans panicking.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told CNN, “I’d argued since day one that we put this in proper perspective: I have not been in favor of these overall shutdowns, have been devastating to the economy, devastating to people’s health in other ways.”
“It’s been a difficult thing to manage, and I’ve tried not to be critical of any government officials having to make really tough decisions with imperfect information, that includes governors and the President,” Johnson continued. “So I understand what he’s saying. I don’t think it’s an illegitimate point to make.”
After saying he would like to see the “full context” of Trump’s remarks, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told the publication, “When you’re in a crisis situation, you have to inform people for their public health but you also don’t want to create hysteria.”
Trump defended his remarks when he said on Fox News’ “Hannity” Wednesday, “I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people.”
“I don’t want to scare people,” the president continued. “I want people not to panic, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Woodward’s book “Rage” is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.