At this point, are we really surprised to hear that President Donald Trump has lied again?
In another era — or another universe — catching the President of the United States saying something egregious or admitting to outright lies might have meant the end of their presidency. In this reality, it’s just another Wednesday of the Trump presidency. As the coronavirus death toll rises to nearly 200,000 Americans, new audio has been released where the President can be heard acknowledging the severity of the pandemic and admitting to downplaying it to the public.
The tapes were released in conjunction with Rage, veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s new book on Trump and his administration. Woodward, best known for breaking the story of the infamous Watergate break-in, conducted a series of interviews with the President from December 2019 to July 2020. According to the book, Trump was told in a January intelligence briefing that the virus would be the “biggest national security threat” to his presidency. Trump later claimed not to remember this warning. You know, the way it just slips your mind when someone tells you to take out the trash or prepare your country for a deadly pandemic.
In February, Trump was calling the coronavirus the Democrats’ “new hoax” following the investigation into collusion with Russia (for which he was explicitly NOT exonerated, btw). However, behind closed doors Trump sounded well aware of the threat COVID-19 posed to the country. He told Woodward:
“It goes through the air. That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, 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.”
If the government had approached the pandemic with that kind of seriousness, thousands of lives could have been saved. Yet as we all well know, the President’s public comments and actions did NOT reflect this understanding of COVID-19, as he often told us it would soon “go away.”
He also claimed children were “almost immune” to the virus, despite telling Woodward in early March that “plenty of young people” were at risk. In a March interview, he admitted to having purposefully downplayed the crisis. He said:
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
He doesn’t want to create a panic?? What total B.S.!
Will yelling “fire” in a crowded theater probably cause a panic? Yes. But assuring the audience the fire has been put out, and they should just sit back and enjoy the movie instead of starting an orderly evacuation? That’s manslaughter.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that while the excuse is new, the message remains the same. Trump has openly admitted on numerous occasions that he wanted to slow down testing in order to bring coronavirus case numbers down. But obviously that doesn’t bring the actual spread down — just the appearance of things getting worse.
Frankly, there is no evidence that the President cares about people dying at all. As far as we can tell, he only cares about what makes him look good and what will line his pockets. That opinion is apparently shared by the administration’s top pandemic expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, per Woodward’s book, told an associate about the Commander-In-Chief:
“His sole purpose is to get reelected.”
Yeesh. With that in mind, it totally tracks that Trump still deflected blame for the problem months later despite the obvious, colossal failure of leadership. In Woodward’s final interview in July, the President once again passed the buck, saying:
“The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault. It’s — China let the damn virus out.”
Seriously? It doesn’t matter where the virus came from, the question is ARE YOU KEEPING EVERYONE AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE?! And of course we know the answer to that.
Trump’s Democratic opponent in the presidential race, Joe Biden, slammed these revelations in a campaign event Wednesday, calling the 74-year-old’s actions “beyond despicable” and “a dereliction of duty.” He said:
“He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months. He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”
See his full remarks (below):
Meanwhile Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did what she always does — denied that the President had lied to or misled the American people. However, during a White House event Trump himself reiterated his line about not wanting to cause a panic after being asked about the Woodward book. He confirmed:
“Well, I think if you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so. The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country. And I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.”
There’s no doubt at this point that Trump’s lack of leadership has been objectively deadly. Whether that fact gets through to his supporters — many of whom continue to deny the dangers of coronavirus themselves — remains to be seen, but we’re sorry to say we have our doubts.
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