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Donald Trump, in new Bob Woodward book, admits to downplaying coronavirus threat during early days of pandemic

On 7 February, Donald Trump, in one of a series of interviews for Bob Woodward’s book, described the coronavirus as “deadly stuff”

President Donald Trump acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he had knowingly played down the coronavirus earlier this year even though he was aware it was “deadly” and vastly more serious than the seasonal flu.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on 7 February in one of a series of interviews he conducted with the president for his upcoming book Rage.

The Washington Post and CNN were given advance copies of the book and published details Wednesday.

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

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

The national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, warned the president on 28 January that the coronavirus represented the “biggest national security threat” of his presidency, according to CNN’s account of the book, but Trump later said he did not remember the warning.

In public, Trump repeatedly claimed early on that the virus would disappear. On 22 January, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” the president replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

On 10 February he was predicting that by April, “when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously‚Ķ

The New York Times

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