After the revelations by the renowned US journalist Bob Woodward, according to which Donald Trump was already aware of the dangers posed by the coronavirus in February, the president defended his downplaying statements on the pandemic. Trump said in Washington on Wednesday that he wanted to avoid “panic” in the country.
In a press conference in the White House, Trump stressed that the government had to show “leadership”. “I don’t want people to be afraid, I don’t want to panic.” Woodwards’ new book, entitled “Rage”, was described by the President as “another political attack”.
Trump had repeatedly downplayed the dangers at the beginning of the spread of the new virus in the USA. Because he also urged the lifting of the corona restrictions imposed in various regions of the country and a rapid return to normalcy early on, critics accuse him of considerable complicity in the widespread spread of the virus.
Woodward’s revelations, which are causing a stir eight weeks before the presidential election, are fueling these allegations. In his talks with Woodward, Trump made it clear that he knew from the start that the virus was “deadly stuff”. “I wanted to downplay it,” Trump said in an interview with Woodward on March 19, but according to CNN published excerpts from the book.
“I still like to downplay it because I don’t want to panic,” the president said in the same interview. There is a recording of the conversation. In those weeks, however, the President said repeatedly that the virus was not dangerous and would “disappear” on its own. Woodward’s book is due out on September 15th.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden accused Trump of “betraying the American people” because of the Woodward revelations. The president had committed this “betrayal” on a matter of “life and death”, stressed Biden during a campaign appearance in the state of Michigan.
Trump knew “how deadly” the corona virus was, said the candidate for the opposition Democrats. “He lied to the American people. He knowingly and deliberately lied for months about the threat they (the virus) posed to the country.”
In the polls for the November 3rd election, Biden is currently ahead of Trump. The pandemic has reduced the approval ratings of the president. The United States is the pandemic hardest hit country in the world with 6.35 million infections and more than 190,000 deaths.
Woodward, who now brings Trump into distress with his revelations, became world famous in the 1970s, together with his “Washington Post” colleague Carl Bernstein, through his research into the Watergate wiretapping affair surrounding President Richard Nixon. The scandal led to Nixon’s resignation. Since then, Woodward has repeatedly published exposé books about US presidents, including one on Trump in 2018 with the title “Fear”.