When the coronavirus pandemic was starting to gain public attention, President Donald Trump inarguably downplayed it. Then, as cases started to surge across the United States of America, Trump had to change his tune to a certain extent. At this point, the United States of America has had 193,000 deaths from the coronavirus and millions of cases. In a new book by American journalist Bob Woodward, Woodward claimed Trump admitted to knowing that coronavirus was a problem back in February of this year (before it even became a massive, widespread problem in the United States). Then, in March, Woodward alleged Trump admitted to downplaying the severity of the virus. While anyone can make allegations, CNN has no released audio recording of the two conversations Woodward is referring to and it’s clear Woodward is 100% telling the truth.

February 7th, 2020

Here is the transcript from the clip that was released of the conversation Woodward and Trump had on February 7th, 2020:

Woodward: And so what was President Xi saying yesterday??

Trump: Yesterday, Well we were talking mostly about the virus and I think he’s gonna have it in good shape. But you know, it’s a very tricky situation. It’s the- it goes it goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air. 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 your, you know, your- even your strenuous flus. You know, people don’t realize we lose 25,000 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right? It’s pretty amazing. And then I say, well, the same thing- this is more deadly, this is five per, you know, this is 5% versus 1% and less than 1% you know, so, this is deadly stuff. 

March 19th, 2020

Here is the transcript from the clip that was released of the conversation Woodward and Trump had on March 19th, 2020: 

Trump: Now it’s turning out It’s not just old people, Bob… today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, old  people to plenty of young people. 

Woodward: So give me a moment of talking to somebody going through this with Fauci or somebody who kind of- it caused a pivot in your mind because it’s clear just from what’s in on the public record that you went through a pivot on this to Oh my god, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable. 

Trump: Well, I think Bob really to be honest with you-

Woodward: Sure, I want you to be.

Trump: I wanted to- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down. Because I don’t want to create a panic.

Donald Trump

Other Comments In February 

This is particularly interesting, as Trump’s on-record comments about the virus in February included: 

  • On February 10th, at a meeting with Governors, Trump said “I had a long talk with President Xi — for the people in this room — two nights ago, and he feels very confident.  He feels very confident. And he feels that, again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus.”
  • On February 23rd, Trump claimed the situation was “very much under control” to reporters. 
  • On February 24th, Trump tweeted “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me.”
  • On February 26th, Trump stated at a Coronavirus Task Force Meeting at The White House that “I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that — and I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000…And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
  • On February 27th, Trump said in a meeting with African-American leaders at The White House that “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

These comments are blatantly in stark contrast to what Trump was taped as saying on February 7th on the leaked audio. 

Also, it’s stunning that Trump would admit to wanting to “downplay” the virus in order to not “create a panic” rather than being forthcoming with the American people about how serious this was. 

Kayleigh McEnany’s Response 

Today, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany addressed the above news.

Kayleigh McEnany

“The President never downplayed the virus,” McEnany stated. “Once again, the President expressed calm. The President was serious about this when Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment. He was expressing calm and he was taking early action and his actions are reflective of how seriously he took…”

When asked if he regrets using hopeful language given where we’re at, McEnany said that “No, this President embodied the American spirit that when we face a challenge, a crisis, a pandemic, we come together. We can be optimistic. We can be serious about it. We can take it seriously with our actions, which is exactly what this President does. It’s why we lead the world in testing. Doing far more than #2 which is India. He took this seriously but he still expressed calm. Our food supply chains were at risk. We could not have mass runs on grocery stores. The markets also, the economy was in play here. We didn’t want there to be a huge crash and panic. He expressed calmness from this podium but he has always taken it seriously in the response. The unprecedented repose really reflects that.”

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