Medics console each other after the death of another Coronavirus patient, April 2020

In a series of interviews with journalist Bob Woodward, Donald Trump said he willfully deceived Americans about the threat from Coronavirus.

The revelation, in Woodward’s forthcoming book Rage, came as the US death toll reached 190,815. Confirmed cases are 6,359,720.

And in a crowded day of developments around the pandemic, the Trump-Russia affair, and November’s elections:

*Trump officials tried to shut up Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Government’s top Coronavirus expert, over the dangers to children from the illness

*A senior Homeland Security official said the department manipulated intelligence reports to minimize the threats of Russia’s election interference and of white supremacists. Meanwhile, it exaggerated the threat of “Antifa” and anarchists.

*While criticizing Trump’s mismanagement of Coronavirus, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden gave details of his plans for the US economy.

*Wildfires continue to ravage California, with more than 85 blazes in the Pacific Northwest in the worst season on record.

Trump: “Deadly Stuff”

Trump said in late January, at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, that the US death toll would be “close to zero”. Throughout February, March, and all the way to September, he has insisted that the virus “will soon disappear”.

But on January 28, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien informed Trump, “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency. This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

O’Brien’s deputy Matthew Pottinger explained that the danger was as great as the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed about 50 million people around the world.

Ten days later, Trump called Woodward in one of 18 interviews that he gave the journalist for the book.

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 flus.

This is deadly stuff.

Trump returned to the topic on March 19, three days after the White House finally issued guidelines over social distancing to contain the virus.

Part of it is the mystery. Part it is the viciousness. You know when it attacks it attacks the lungs. And I don’t know — when people get hit, when they get hit, and now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob.

Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older. Young people too — plenty of young people.

But he admitted that he was deliberately hiding the reality of the pandemic.

“I wanted to always play [the threat] down,” he said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Within days, Trump — worried about the downturn in the stock market as he sought re-election — was trying to remove the White House guidelines and any limits on businesses, demanding a “reopening” of the US economy by Easter, April 12.


On February 10, three days after telling Woodward of the “deadly stuff”, Trump said on his favored outlet Fox TV:

We’re in very good shape. We have 11 cases. And most of them are getting better very rapidly. I think they will all be better.

Almost two weeks later, he told reporters on the White House South Lawn that “we have it very much under control in this country”.

Days after that, he said in a White House appearance, “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.” He told a South Carolina that Coronavirus concerns were the “new hoax” of Democrats.

Trump had given Woodward the assessment of his experts that the mortality rate of Coronavirus could be “5% versus 1% and less than 1%”. But on March 4, he told his friend Sean Hannity on Fox TV that “the number is way under 1%”.

Biden: “A Life and Death Betrayal”

Joe Biden highlighted the cost of Trump’s approach on Wednesday, speaking about the “life and death betrayal” which was a “dereliction of duty” and “a disgrace”:

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to bury the story by lying about it. She defied Trump’s words to Woodward on audiotape and his numerous public statements, saying he never played down the virus.

Trump — who has whipped up fears over immigrants, Muslims, China, “extremists”, “anarchists”, “radicals”, the “Fake News Media”, and biased judges — later told reporters:

We don’t want to instill panic. We don’t want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem.

Throughout the summer, Trump has demanded that schools fully reopen with complete in-class instruction. He has belittled and pushed aside his Coronavirus experts, Dr. Fauci and Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, replacing them with the Fox commentator and neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas.

Contradicting his March statement to Woodward about the threat to “young people”, Trump — at odds with the assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — declared last month that children are “almost immune from this disease”.